Looking at Images, Workshop 1: Picturing Research / Researching Pictures
Wednesday 21 May 2014
Winchester School of Art
Marquard Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Visual Culture
Sunil Manghani, author of Image Studies: Theory & Practice
Mihaela Brebenel, Jane Birkin, Rima Chahrour, Nina Pancheva-Kirkova, and Phaedra Shanbaum, who collaborated on the Working with Images symposium as part of the Radical Media Forum (Goldsmiths College 28/02/14).
Picturing Research / Researching Pictures was open to postgraduate and early career researchers working in the areas of image studies, visual culture, media and communications, and art and design. The workshop began with presentations on what is typically meant by image research and considered the different ‘images’ we hold of research itself. Following which, participants worked collaboratively to experiment with and critique an ‘ecology of images’ research tool. All participants were invited to expand on the debates and techniques explored during the workshop to submit individual contributions for the ‘Researcher’s Guide’ e-book.
Picturing Research / Researching Pictures was the first of two workshop events for Looking at Images: A Researcher’s Guide, an AHRC-funded project which ran over 2014. The project focused on the development of skills in image-related research, prompting dialogue between and within the subject areas Art & Design and Media & Communication (concerning both practice and non-practice research). It culminated in a launch event, at the British Library, for a collaboratively produced ‘Researcher’s Guide’ e-book. The idea for the overall project, Looking at Images, grew out of three main influences:
(1) Marquard Smith (editor of the Journal of Visual Culture) offered a key contribution to Winchester School of Art’s Centre for Global Futures in Art, Design and Media, with a presentation about the ‘image’ of research. Subsequent discussion also informed WSA’s Postgraduate Conference 2013, which identified a need in developing deep-level skills pertinent to understanding and handling the image in and as research across a range of areas.
(2) Approaches to thinking critically about images and image practices while simultaneously engaging with image-making processes has been difficult to formulate. Sunil Manghani’s Image Studies (Routledge, 2013) is one key publication that speculates upon specific research tools and approaches for both obtaining and handling images (relating to issues of access, quality, ethics and intellectual property) and critiquing them (including the use of images as a means of critique). The book includes an ‘ecology of images’ diagram as a proposed research tool, with examples of its use to stimulate and enrich image research.
(3) The recently launched Photomediations Machine (a sister project to the online open access journal Culture Machine) has renewed debates about the form of scholarly work. Curated by Prof. Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmiths), it provides an online space where ‘the dynamic relations of mediation as performed in photography and other media can be critically encountered, experienced and engaged’. As a platform for combined theoretical and practical work, it has led us to think further about the future of image-based, open access research in the field of visual culture.