Visual Culture and Learning

Visual culture studies encompasses theories and methods about practices of looking related to the technologies for making things and ideas visible and thinkable as well as forms of knowledge about and through visual communication.

Visual culture studies encompasses theories and methods about practices of looking related to the technologies for making things and ideas visible and thinkable as well as forms of knowledge about and through visual communication. Visuality is studied in this perspective as socially and culturally constructed, that is to say that we learn to see in specific ways in the society and the culture as well as education as we live in; This separates between the vision (the ability to see) and visuality which examines a specific form of knowledge related to technologies for visualizing and to materialize a topic, a message or the shape of a story or an artifact. Qualitative methods used in Visual culture, includes Visual Ethnography that emphasizes on what is happening in the encounter and interaction between viewers, users and producers of images and visual communication and the technologies involved.

The ethnographic concept “site” is studied as a delimited “field” which may be a physical location; a classroom, a square, an art gallery, a museum, a cafe, a consumption spot but also a digital location on the Internet or in social media. Visual Ethnography examines reproductions as well as renegotiations of preconceptions around society, knowledge and human beings, ethical and moral policy options as well as different forms of learning. Visual Ethnography can also be studied as policy-ethnography, i.e. how various policy documents govern mentalities and determine what becomes visible, revealing and thus available for learning. This also concern systems of values in education and different subjects. Theory and method within discourse analysis is used to examine and analyze images and visual phenomena, and how those are part of and produces discursive practices; what can and must be visible and in what ways, what is excluded, invisible or become mythologies. Here, the so-called focal theories entrance the research toolbox, theories about different ways to see and visualize images and other Visual phenomena.

Furthermore, the post humanist methods are emerging in Cultural studies, Visual art studies and Educational research. Here involves a renegotiation of the separation between the Visual and physical, between subject and object, art and science. By studying how Visual phenomena and language come about and become materialized as well as communicators and actors in both informal and institutional practices, this shifts the relationship between autonomous and subjects as active and material objects as passive. Instead the interaction perspectives transgress to studies of "intra-actions" and performativity in the intra-play between language, imagery and objects. That is to say, between the literal, visual and material in which all the various forms prominent have agency, e.g. the power to act on each other.

Research leader: Ulla Lind

Updated: 17 April 2013
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