Image Testimonies

Symposium: Witnessing in Times of Social Media

Recent political conflicts signal an increased proliferation of image testimonies shared widely via Social Media. Although witnessing with and through images is not a phenomenon of the internet era, image practices and politics in Social Media as much as new technology have enabled individuals to record, upload, and share images directly via mobile devices, which makes nearly everyone a potential witness. In relation to their ability to give and to create evidence, the special efficacy of image testimonies seems to lie in their ability to affect, to move, or to mobilize. Witnessing, especially when unfolding in Social Media, needs to be defined as a collective and relational practice with the effect of forming communities, and provoking further image testimonies.

What exactly is being testified by these various forms of witnessing can only be studied from multiple perspectives and necessitates complicating the “truth-claims” that are made. Against this backdrop the symposium seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate on the topic of testimony and witnessing. Which different concepts of witnessing are at stake in image testimonies? What is the role of the spectator? How can we think of the relation between mediated forms of witnessing and the body? A guiding theme of the symposium is these images’ affective dynamics in order to shape a new approach on testimony theory.

CONCEPTION AND ORGANIZATION: Kerstin Schankweiler, Verena Straub, Tobias Wendl

A PROJECT OF Free University Berlin
CRC 1171 Affective Societies
Project B01 “Affective Dynamics of Images in the Era of Social Media”