3rd International Workshop on Visual Research for Doctoral Students: Images as Agents in Digital Public Spheres

27-28 June 2019
Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt.
Universitätsstraße 65-67, 9020 Klagenfurt (AT)

Keynote Speakers Abstracts


  • Yvonne Volkart (Academy of Art and Design FHNW Basel)

For an Ecology of Care beyond the Wasteocene
We live in the Wasteocene – the digital age – in which raw materials; human and animal bodies; plants and labor are increasingly depleted, devaluated, and turned into waste. If we want to overcome this “-cene” of wasting, we need to establish a culture of care, an aesthetics of becoming (Other). We need to invent and deliver other images, images that perform relations towards the other in the making.

Assuming that there is no escape from technology in the Wasteocene, the belief in technologies as agents of information and possible action is widespread in both technophile and critical discourses. Embracing the paradox and connecting to techno-scientific methods of observing the world, many artists use technologies like sensors and methods such as Big Data to get in touch with what has long been unknown time. They try to ‘translate’ earthbound signals into human perception (i.e. make them visible or audible), in order to deliver information and establish new relations between non-humans and humans. I have called these technologies ecomedia. But what do these ecomedia and their images narrate? And whom do they address? How do they affect us? What kind of experiences do they open up and what role does the aesthetic play in this?

Drawing on theories of media-ecology and new materialism as well as on results of the ongoing research project “Ecodata-Ecomedia-Ecoaesthetics” this talk discusses how visual aesthetics might enable (or not) participation and lateral thinking beyond the Wasteocene.


  • Robert Hariman (Northwestern University Evanston)

Photography, Form, and What Matters
A paradigm shift is underway in the habitus of photography. That shift moves beyond the critical discourse that was launched in the mid-twentieth century by John Alan Sekula, Susan Sontag, and others. Although providing a powerful critique of media dependency, that project has been increasingly neutralized in the context of a globalized digital environment. Digital technologies have highlighted what always were deep problems and serious omissions in the critical paradigm, while also providing new resources for thinking about visual culture.

The paradigm shift includes reconsideration of the relationship between the referential and aesthetic principles of image composition. Their intersection was the key to photography’s medium specificity, but the discourse on photography came to be grounded in indexicality and highly suspicious of aesthetic inflection. The aesthetic “problem” became particularly acute in respect to photography’s political efficacy, and “formalism” was singled out as a threat to good journalism and social critique.

In place of this standoff, scholars working on media aesthetics, new materialisms, and the post-human are recuperating visual form as a means for thinking and communicating about the deep problems of the 21st century. To that end, I will trace some connections between digital media and the early history of photography while looking ahead toward a horizon of ecological catastrophe. This optic is developed through three successive steps: in place of the conventional denunciation of technological reproduction, copying is recast as an essential feature of both beauty and moral judgment; in place of anxieties about the excessiveness of digital imaging, form becomes a means for disclosing an abundant world; in place of visual economies of objectification and alienation, one can enter into the “living semiosis” of human/non-human systems. In this context, we discover an image world that that “thinks” through forms and networks, in a dialectic of futurity and precarity, and on behalf of everyone.

PhD Presenters Abstracts


  • Faime Alpagu (University of Vienna)

A Comparison of Time Relations (´70s/now) and Analog/Digital Photos of a “guest worker” Woman
This paper analyses the photos of a migrant woman from a visual and biographical perspective by compar ing analog photos from the 1970s with the digital photos shared via Whatsapp and Facebook in 2018/19. (read more…)


  • Bérangère Amblard (Institute of Transtextual and Transcultural Studies Lyon)

Living in “hyper-screen”: images and contemporary Chinese art
The younger generation of artists in China – that Barbara Pollack qualifies both of “postinternet” and “post-passport” generation – grew up in a context of modernisation and opening of the country. (read more…)


  • Orsolya Bajusz (Corvinus University of Budapest)

Current Debates on Biotechnology and the Role of the Visual
My research explores the mechanism through which visual media intervenes in contemporary public debates and controversies around biotechnology. These debates are complex sites of hegemony shifts and contestations of knowledge regimes, and visual media’s role is more complex than illustration or instruction. (read more…)


  • Stefanie Bauer (Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt)

Narratives in online health communication: A qualitative content analysis of YouTube videos and user comments on the topic of food intolerances
The number of people who deal with the consequences of food intolerances has risen over the recent years. Food intolerances cause a variety of unspecific, severe and painful symptoms, which makes diagnosis complicated and a long-lasting. (read more…)


  • Xénia Farkas (Corvinus University of Budapest)

Visuals of Politics: Visual Political Communication Strategies at Social Media Platforms at the Hungarian Elections since 2010
To what extent do the Hungarian political actors use Facebook and Instagram for sharing images and what kind of strategies can be identified? Do they share details of their private lives? Does the personalisation appear in the visual political communication of the Hungarian political actors?
(read more…)


  • Margherita Foresti (Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster)

Images between narrativity and documentation: Ammar Al Beik’s The Sun’s Incubator
This paper focuses on the practice of filmmaking by contemporary artist Ammar Al Beik, which deals with Syria’s political situation from 2011 to the present. I argue that images reveal their political and social agency when they take on a narrative approach unique to the practice of history-writing. (read more…)


  • Erec Gellautz (Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt)

Networked images on display
The linking of digital image and communication technologies in mobile devices marks a media upheaval. The photographic field and the field of telecommunications have been connected and reshaped through smartphone technologies: integrated into apps, image production, processing and distribution are increasingly merging into one single flowing process. (read more…)


  • Isabel Hartwig (Free University of Berlin)

Restaging Art History – Intervisuality in Social Media Photography
With this presentation, I aim to introduce a popular creative practice in social media: the photographic restaging of historical artworks. My aim is to analyse the intervisual relations that these photographs establish between historical art and contemporary online photography. (read more…)


  • Gerrit Höfferer (Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt)

Hyperimage. Cultural analysis about the motive of the bearded woman
This dissertation examines the cultural model ‘woman with beard’ (from the fields of art and visual culture) within the framework of a curatorial project. Using cross-medial exemplifications, the cultural model is placed in the inclusive framing of a hyperimage and is analysed in a transdisciplinary way based on the analytical category gender. (read more…)


  • Ioan Daniel Mihalcea (University of Bucharest)

Photographic agency and the mediations of precarity
This research paper explores the potential role of documentary photography in developing a reflexive space through which narratives of precarity and the modern ruins can be open for public debate. (read more…)


  • Cezara Nicola (University of Bucharest)

Assessing the Significance of Technoetic Aesthetics: The Self in Digital Contemporary Art
Building on 1960s media theory advocating the reduction of physical distance on a global scale, British artist and theorist Roy Ascott asserts that the self has experienced changes perhaps on an inversely proportional basis. (read more…)


  • Sugandha Sehgal (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

Rise of Feminist Digital Counterpublics: A Study of Social Media Visual Content in Contemporary India
The chief navigational space of my doctoral project is constituted by everyday visual feminist interventions on social media in post-millennial India. My research specifically addresses the newly emergent political aesthetic of visual feminism that is the result of a steady paradigmatic shift in feminist politics from ‘textual discourse’ to ‘digital spectacle. (read more…)


  • Lisa Stuckey (International Research Center for Cultural Studies Vienna)

With(-drawing) publicity: leaked images at the witness stand
Zeuxis and Parrhasius were asked to paint a still life with grapes. While birds considered the grapes in Zeuxis’ painting to be real, he in turn thought so of the curtain in front of the grapes painted by Parrhasius. (read more…)


  • Ragip Zik (Free University Berlin)

From collective framing to connective appropriation: Activist photography across Gezi Movement and Anti-Coup Resistance
Visuals highly affect the way a social movement establishes itself and perceived. Due to their semiotic and affective qualities (Barthes 1981; Sontag 2003), photographs (and other visual elements) have always played a crucial role in social movements not only as a representative communication medium (Olesen 2013), but also in developing collective identity (Melucci 1996) and building collective action frames (Doerr and Teune 2008).
(read more…)