CFP: "What is an Image, Now?" Special Issue, Visual Resources Journal
Visual Resources Journal, Special Issue (Guest Editor: Krešimir Purgar)
Call for Papers:
What is an Image, Now?
The study of images is a vast and complicated field of enquiry that looks to understand how changing modes of production, dissemination and consumption, (including changes to the aesthetics and materiality of images) transforms the value of images, their very definition and ontology.
New modes of production and dissemination created new ways of defining and categorizing images as well as a renewed (sometimes even retrospective) understanding of the image's changing roles through various political and cultural contexts. The increasing visualization of everything, the proliferation of images as markers of content, as click baits, as mediated truths and distorted realities, images as ways of being seen and peeping into the other's intimate reality, revolutionizes the way we understand, use and relate to images. In a way, the permanent and proliferate presence of images and their discursive role completes, or rather complicates, the process of the secularization of representation and its politization, as Walter Benjamin would have argued.
We pose that this moment in time, at the threshold of a pandemic, and the imaginaries perpetuated by its politics, we are again in a moment of transition, one that anticipating a 'post-digital' image. One that refuses newness and enthusiasm, and moves fully to a mode of cycling and recycling.
More than 10 years ago, in a moment of transition between web 1.0 to web 2.0 and the rise of social networks, Hito Steyerl identifies 'the poor image' as an agent, a virtual embodiment of a working class. In her 2009 essay ' In defense of the poor image', she writes:
"The poor image is an illicit fifth-generation bastard of an original image. Its genealogy is dubious. Its filenames are deliberately misspelled. It often defies patrimony, national culture, or indeed copyright. It is passed on as a lure, a decoy, an index, or as a reminder of its former visual self. It mocks the promises of digital technology. Not only is it often degraded to the point of being just a hurried blur, one even doubts whether it could be called an image at all. Only digital technology could produce such a dilapidated image in the first place." 
Suggesting that the image itself, has a potential of defying the promises of digital technologies. In the age of machine seeing, deep-dream and deep-fake, images imagined, produced, categorized, disseminated and mediated by machines, one may ask, what is the relationship formed between new and old images? And what kind of political power do images hold in post-digital times?
Steyerl 's description of the image is one of an exhausted entity, an image that in its erratic movement, outside mechanisms of value that leans on authenticity, loses its essence.
If that is true, is the poor image an essence-less entity? And if so, where does the power of the image reside? What are the new relationships formed between images and authenticity? between images and meaning? Between images and 'the real'? and between images and power?
How do we read an image that had lost the information it carries? And what can an image be, outside of the compilation of bytes, data and information? What new categories of images seem to emerge as new technologies evolve, and in what way image and memory shape one another in this new relationship?
Images encapsulates memory and meaning in a visual form: photographs, mental images, hieroglyphs, word as image, image as word etc. The mode of reading images as such is one that suggests a wholeness, or a Gestalt. What is the quality of the image, that enables this form of visual remembrance and recognition? How does an image function as a fraction? How does it function as a whole? Or as a sign? How to think about and how to map the relationship between networks of images?
For this special issue of Visual Resources, we are interested in new perspectives, new theoretical considerations of images, their ontology, their meaning, value and social-political role, just before we move into a web 3.0 culture, whatever this may mean – how do we conclude the web 2.0 revolution?
We are interested in and issue that will offer a multilayered understanding of the image, relevant to current conditions of relation and communication. We are interested in understanding images outside of the scope of their disciplinary use. We are interested in images as they function across different aspects of epistemology. We are interested in the phenomenology of the image as a connecting vertebra between disciplines.
We are also specifically interested in articles that were written in collaboration, out of an inter-disciplinary consideration of the ontology of images and imaging media. Works submitted by individuals will be considered by virtue of their excellence and ability to propose a multi-disciplinary and layered response to this set of questions.
We welcome papers that critically examine and/or correspond with either of the following topics:
* Iconology / Iconography
* Images between art, design and science
* The aesthetics of digital images
* Interdisciplinary image history
* Images of / in VR/ AR/ XR
* Images created by AI
* Images created by machines
* Media archaeology and images
* Image materiality / virtuality
* Images and politics of dissemination
* Images and politics of production
* Visual language
Abstract of 300-400 words to be sent to:
Dr Lee Weinberg
Dr Phaedra Shanbaum
Submission Deadline for abstracts EXTENDED: 21st February, 2021, 23.55 GMT
If your proposal is received after the above deadline, it may be considered for future issues.
Abstracts accepted will be notified, and authors will be required to submit their full article (4500-6000 words) by May 1st 2021. Articles will go through a double blinded peer review process before accepted for final publication on the September issue of Visual Resources.
Full paper submissions should be submitted through Editorial Manager as per the Instructions for Authors:
Papers should adhere to the IFAs.
Visual Resources is dedicated to the study of images and their use, within art, material culture, architectural history and cultural studies. Its aim is to provide readers with a critical theoretical framework for understanding images and visual information in contemporary society. The journal is published 4 times a year, and includes both a rolling publishing scheme online and a printed version.
Main themes include: visual aesthetics; visual language; art history; digital art; iconography and oncology; museum and archive studies and curating.
For more information on Visual Resources, please visit:
 Steyerl, Hito. "In defense of the poor image." e-flux journal 10.11 (2009) .
https://www.e-flux.com/journal/10/61362/in-defense-of-the-poor-image/ (last accesses 1-12-2020)