‘Critical social optics’ and the transformations of audio-visual culture

John Corner

in Theorising Media

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780719082603
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703182 | DOI:
‘Critical social optics’ and the transformations of audio-visual culture

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This chapter raises questions about the ways in which images are encountered, perceived, understood and questioned as a result of the radical transformation of visual culture within digital contexts. It looks at examples of recent high-profile public photography, and explores how digital media applications have worked to thicken and extend the exchange of viewers' critical discourse around the still image at the same time as providing photographers with a new platform for displaying their images, and for telling stories about them and about the contexts of their taking. The chapter argues that the long-running and intensive debate about the social sufficiency of television's news and documentary portrayals is given a further, instructive point of reference by the photographic practices and the discourses of photographic comment which have been encouraged by digital platforms.

Keywords: images; visual culture; public photography; digital media; critical discourse; social sufficiency; television news

Chapter.  5250 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies

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