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The mediation of affect: security, fear and subversive hope in visual culture
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overarching purpose of this study has been to problematise how visual practices and the mediation of affect is linked to the capacity to produce (new) perceptual realities, sensations and imaginaries, ultimately aiming to legitimate or counter-legitimate the hegemonic discourses and practices mobilised in the name of security. The first part of my thesis approaches this matter through an analysis of media cultures and discursive systems circulating within the court and the state military. Here, I discuss the impact of affect in the judicial-policial production of visible evidence (paper 1; published in the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law) and the state military (visual) narrative of threat (paper 2; published in MedieKultur: Journal of media and communication research). Additionally, as affect runs counter to hegemonic power relations as well as reinforces them, the second part of my thesis focuses on the way in which different resistance collectives cultivate affective dimensions through aesthetic practices in order to foster political attitudes that contest the established discourses of the (in)secure. Here, I examine the online activist group Anonymous’ visual political communication (paper 3; published in TripleC - Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society), and the Spanish movement Podemos’ visual and verbal discursive strategies (paper 4; forthcoming in Cultural Studies). In terms of theoretical and methodological approaches, I have my roots in, among others, Mouffe’s (2005) notion of conflict and (political) affect, Foucault’s (1980) concept of power/knowledge, and Thompson’s (1984; 1990) three-dimensional framework of ideology- analysis. In paper 1, my findings suggest that camera-produced images and technical and dramaturgical elements may have unintentional judicial consequences when they are read as evidence. I detail how this production of visible evidence can potentially stimulate and elicit emotional reaction, as well as discussing the degree to which pictorial crime evidence fails to be an instrumental and neutral representation of truth. In paper 2, my findings point in the direction where the military representation of the ‘Other as threat’ connects to aspects of economic globalisation and the (inter)national production of defence materiel. In article 3 (co-authored with Lindgren 2014) my findings suggest that citizen participation in public matters can be made engaging through the mobilisation of that which Anonymous calls ‘the lulz’; a tickling joy/pleasure (also, a sense of meaningfulness) of standing against power abuse through, for example, online direct action and culture jamming practices. Paper 4 explores the relationship between the affective and the visual using a broader security framework. Here, my findings indicate that Podemos’ discursive battle for social protection and economic security in a context of the crisis of political representation, is no longer framed through the traditional left-right conflict, but within the post- ideological (affective) articulation of ‘the new’ versus ‘the old’ and/or other discursive differences. I show how affect works as a potential for social change, by analysing the strategic production of a ‘We-Them’ discourse using Podemos’ take on social media and the media logic of mainstream television.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2016. , 91 p.
Series
Medier & kommunikation, ISSN 1104-067X ; 16
Keyword [en]
affect, emotion, aesthetics, visual culture, discourse, Otherness, power, security
National Category
Media Studies Communication Studies
Research subject
medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-127052ISBN: 978-91-7601-595-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-127052DiVA: diva2:1040379
Public defence
2016-11-25, hörsal D, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 08:30 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-11-04 Created: 2016-10-27 Last updated: 2016-11-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The legal image's forgotten aesthetics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The legal image's forgotten aesthetics
2013 (English)In: International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, ISSN 0952-8059, E-ISSN 1572-8722, Vol. 26, no 3, 555-577 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aesthetics and communications theories are often applied to art, media and popular culture but not within legal empirical (audiovisual) material—despite the fact that a judicial and legal process comprises a palpable utilisation of the visual as evidence of an historical reality. Based on four distinct Swedish cases, this study analyses the court’s reasoning, interpretation and use of (audio)visual evidence. Inspired by an embodied film theory, Benjamin’s thoughts on the technical-dramaturgical components of the camera and the later Barthes’ notion of the ‘punctum’, the article discusses how (audio)visual evidence cannot be disconnected from affective and aesthetic significances that ultimately can be taken to affect the perception of truth and (the crime’s) reality. The gap between theory and practice is debated and argued as beginning to co-exist; instead of seeing (visual) theory and (judicial) practice as a dichotomy, an attempt should be made for a conversation between seemingly different but in practice related areas of knowledge. The author’s aim is to suggest that photographic and filmic evidence has a particular significance in itself, which means that the relation between (judicial) interpretation and outcome should be considered within an affective and aesthetic dimension, rather than being placed and/or theorized outside of it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nederländerna: Springer Netherlands, 2013
Keyword
Picture, Film, Photography, Aesthetics, Affect, Emotions, Evidence, Law
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-62891 (URN)10.1007/s11196-012-9280-y (DOI)
Available from: 2012-12-20 Created: 2012-12-20 Last updated: 2016-11-03Bibliographically approved
2. Politics, Pleasure, Violence: Swedish Defence Propaganda in Social Media
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Politics, Pleasure, Violence: Swedish Defence Propaganda in Social Media
2013 (English)In: Mediekultur, ISSN 0900-9671, E-ISSN 1901-9726, Vol. 29, no 55, 21-42 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In recent years, the Swedish Armed Forces have produced and distributed highly edited video clips on YouTube that show moving images of military activity. Alongside this development, mobile phone apps have emerged as an important channel through which the user can experience and take an interactive part in the staging of contemporary armed conflict. This article examines the way in which the aesthetic and affective experience of Swedish defence and security policy is socially and (media-)culturally (co-)constructed and how the official representation of Swedish military intervention (re)produces political and economic effects when these activities are distributed through traditional and social media. Based on Isabela and Norman Fairclough’s thoughts on political discourse, Michel Foucault’s dialectic idea of power/knowledge, and Sara Ahmed’s concept of the affective, I discuss how the Swedish digital military aesthetic is part of a broader political and economic practice that has consequences beyond the digital, the semiotic, and what might at first glance appear to be pure entertainment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Köpenhamn: , 2013
Keyword
aesthetics, affect, communication, propaganda, warfare, social media, YouTube, mobile phone apps, interdiscursive, interdisciplinary
National Category
Humanities Media and Communications
Research subject
medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100078 (URN)
Available from: 2015-02-20 Created: 2015-02-20 Last updated: 2016-11-02Bibliographically approved
3. For the Lulz: Anonymous, Aesthetics and Affect
Open this publication in new window or tab >>For the Lulz: Anonymous, Aesthetics and Affect
2014 (English)In: tripleC (cognition, communication, co-operation): Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society / Unified Theory of Information Research Group, ISSN 1726-670X, E-ISSN 1726-670X, Vol. 12, no 1, 238-264 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The focus of this paper is on different but connected areas of power – relating to things such as economic globalisation, surveillance, censorship/freedom, ‘terrorism’ and/or specific military activity – visually represented through online media, and intentionally produced to inform a wide spectrum of individuals and interest groups about global and local social injustices. Or, more importantly, produced and distributed with the purpose of providing users with possibilities to engage, bodily and emotionally, in diverse ways: may it be through physical antiwar/anti-wall street protests or hacktivist tactics (e.g. DDoS attacks).

We examine a sample of videos, photographs and propaganda posters produced, and digitally distributed (2008-2013), by the fragmented body of activists united globally under the generic name of Anonymous. Analytically, we will draw upon Mouffe’s thoughts on ‘antagonism’ and ‘passion,’ Foucault’s ideas on international citizenship and the (ethical) ‘right to intervene’ (beyond governmentality), together with Sontag’s notion of institutional political inertia and the Deleuzian/Spinozian perspective on affect as a capacity for action. The goal is to analyse the ways in which Anonymous systematically inspire (not only) the radical and social imaginary but also other direct forms of action that have potential societal effects.

Keyword
Anonymous, Aesthetics, Affect, Hacktivism, Hacker Culture, Resistance, Dissent, Passion, Lulz, YouTube, Twitter, Social Media, Popular Culture, Power, Globalisation, Surveillance, Censorship, Freedom, Terrorism, Counter-Hegemony, Counter-Discourse
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87268 (URN)
Available from: 2014-03-27 Created: 2014-03-27 Last updated: 2016-11-02Bibliographically approved
4. The Regime’s Worst Nightmare: The Mobilisation of Citizen Democracy: A study of Podemos’ (aesthetic) Populism and Production of Affect in Political Discourse
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Regime’s Worst Nightmare: The Mobilisation of Citizen Democracy: A study of Podemos’ (aesthetic) Populism and Production of Affect in Political Discourse
2016 (English)In: Cultural Studies, ISSN 0950-2386, E-ISSN 1466-4348Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Keyword
Podemos, discourse, populism, political aesthetics, affect, austerity
National Category
Communication Studies Media Studies Cultural Studies
Research subject
medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-127049 (URN)
Available from: 2016-10-27 Created: 2016-10-27 Last updated: 2016-11-02

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