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Six Degrees of Image Creation: Developing a community-driven, photographic production and distribution cycle in the virtual and material world.

Social issues in a context that is conventionally been addressed as "developing" have been constant topics in both historical and contemporary documentary photography. Despite the diversity of topics covered though, the images themselves often stem from a generic, visually exotic and/or sensational template that does not take into account the visual culture, i.e. the understanding of the meaning of images and photographs, of the people photographed. The latter are consequently reduced to mere objects in one-sided reproductions of the same scenes. Additionally, the images mostly appear via exhibitions, magazines and websites that will very likely never reach the people portrayed, unless in the unlikely case that the photographer takes the initiative to again get in touch with them. The goal of this project is to visually describe socio-economically disadvantaged communities through personal stories of their members that together counter perceptions of the community as a monolithic group of homogeneous 'victims'. For this purpose, we develop a community-driven, photographic production and distribution cycle operating in the hybrid space of the virtual and material world. The objectives of the project are 1. To develop a participatory, ethnography-driven photographic approach in which personal stories within a socio-economically disadvantaged community are captured through digital images. 2. To investigate the impact of bouncing the digital images back to the community in a materialized form. 3. To explore the potential of an online platform to reach people within and outside the community, inform their perceptions of the community and generate social interactions. Specifically, audio-visual diptychs will be created to present, on the one hand, the daily life of the participants and, on the other hand, the personal story that they will tell starting from a self-chosen object and that will be audio-recorded. The diptychs will then be shared through a material track (by transforming prints of the images into street art) and a virtual track (by publishing them on Facebook). The case study of this research will focus on the waste-pickers community in Mumbai (India) in collaboration with Stree Mukti Sanghatana. The potential applicability of the methodology in different settings and different communities will be part of the evaluation of this research. The results of this project will be presented through an academic publication, a Facebook page and two exhibitions.
Date:1 Jan 2018  →  31 Dec 2019
Project type:Collaboration project