Image Research & its Futures

Image Research & its Futures

Looking at Images, Workshop 2: Image Research & its Futures
Thursday 19 June 2014
Goldsmiths, University of London

Guest Speakers

Sunil Manghani (WSA) – Writing with Images

Verina Gfader (Huddersfield) – Assembly: Corrective Unrest & Image Instruments

Christina Duffy (British Library) – Imaging Science at the British Library

Nora McGregor (British Library) – #BLDigital: 1 Million Image Experiment

Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmiths) – Curating / Open / Images


Image Research and its Futures 
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 guest panel offered presentations on a diverse range of image-related research projects and methodologies. The presentations considered institutional, ethical, intellectual and practical matters when devising, conducting and disseminating image-based work. Following which, participants engaged in an open debate about the role of images in research and image-based research a view to helping postgraduate and early career researcher look ahead to the development of research beyond the doctoral thesis. All participants were invited to expand on the debates and ideas explored during the workshop to submit individual contributions for the ‘Researcher’s Guide’ e-book.

Image Research & its Futures was the second 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 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.

See also: Workshop 1: Picturing Research / Researching Pictures