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To appear as Zappavigna, M. (forthcoming). “And then he said… no one has more respect for women than I do”: Intermodal relations and intersubjectivity in image macros. In H. Stöckl, H. Caple, & J. Pflaeging (Eds.), Image-Centric Practices in the Contemporary Media Sphere. London: Routledge.
Selfies are self-portraits typically taken with the front camera of a mobile device. This chapter considers how these images are recontextualised across different social contexts. While most research has focused on selfies that directly depict the photographer’s face, we consider how what we term ‘implied/inferred selfies’ and ‘still life self-images’ (of objects such as coffee) are reconstrued across domains of meaning-making. These types of images are photographs in which the photographer’s perspective is indirectly represented through various traces of the photographer’s body, and through personal or intimate objects.
This paper explores how people present their relationship to their domestic objects in decluttering vlogs on YouTube, where they show the process of getting rid of undesired items. These videos are associated with discourses of ‘minimalism’ that are currently prevalent on social media platforms. The paper adopts a multimodal social semiotic approach, focusing on how language, gesture, and the visual frame coordinate intermodally to make meanings about objects. The multimodal construction of deixis in coordination with a type of ‘point-of-view shot’, filmed from the visual perspective of the vlogger, is examined. The broader aim is to investigate what these videos reveal about how digital semiotic capitalism is inflecting the lived experience of social media users. What is at stake is how people articulate intersubjective meanings about their experiences and relationships through the way they communicate about their objects.
The selfie is one of the most widely publicized, criticized, and debated visual phenomena of our time. However, formulating a definition of the selfie is not straightforward, as visual clues – be they representational or compositional – alone are not sufficient for identification. Recognizing an image as a selfie, rather than a portrait, often requires viewers to interpret the image in relation to the technological and sociocutural context in which the photo was taken and shared. In this paper, we consider the technological conditions that have shaped the evolution of the selfie as a visual genre. Central to our discussion is the premise that the selfie is not simply a genre for self-representation, but means of generating various perspectives: that of the selfie maker, the represented visual participant, and the viewer identification. This unique perspective-generating affordance of the selfie is both facilitated and constrained by the various technologies involved in selfie practices. On the one hand, the technological and physical constraints of the smart phone camera give rise to a specific form of “distorted” look which makes certain types of selfie possible. On the other hand, social media platforms facilitate the sharing of selfies, which results in increasingly stylized and creative ways in which perspectives of the self can be represented, negotiated, and, in the case of selfies manipulated via apps, augmented.
In this paper, we explore the semiotic dimension of digital scrapbooking. In particular, we look at how technological affordances of social media platforms, such as reposting and scrolling functions, facilitate the creation of a unique form of semiotic artefact—curated visual blogs. We argue that the curatorial practices of digital scrapbooking create a form of aesthetic experience—the aesthetics of the everyday, both for the creator and viewers.We call this phenomenon ambient aesthetics to highlight the social nature of the digital aesthetic experience, that is, a collective aesthetic experience shared by all social media users, and created through collective participation in social media practices, whether as a producer, viewer, and/or curator of digital photography. Through social media photography practices, we experience the extraordinariness of the ordinary in everyday life through a shared subject position in the ‘perpetual now’. This digital aesthetic of the everyday, we believe, is one of essential experiences that shape our existence in the age of social networks.
This article employs multimodal discourse analysis to explore how mothers represent their everyday experiences of motherhood on Instagram through different forms of self-portraiture. It investigates whether the ‘selfies’ that they share can be characterized as a visual genre and identifies four subgenres: presented, mirrored, inferred and implied selfies. The article illustrates the different ways in which the photographer’s perspective can be represented in each subgenre. The aim is to show that the function of the selfie as a multimodal genre is not solely to represent ‘the self’ but rather to enact intersubjectivity, that is, to generate various possibilities of relations between perspectives on a particular topic, issue, or experience and hence to open up potential for negotiating different points of view.
As an iconic image of our time, the selfie has attracted much attention in popular media and scholarly writing. The focus so far has been on the representation of the self or subjectivity. We propose a complementary perspective that foregrounds the intersubjective function of the selfie. We argue that the presence of selfhood is often an assumption. What distinguishes the selfie from other photographic genres is its ability to enact intersubjectivity – the possibility for difference of perspectives to be created and this difference to be shared between the image creator and the viewer. Based on a social semiotic analysis of selfies on Instagram, we identify four subtypes of selfie, each deploying a combination of visual resources to represent a distinct form of intersubjectivity. Our analysis suggests that the potential for empowerment is inherent in the visual structure of the selfie, and that, as a genre, it is open for recontextualisation across contexts and social media platforms.
This article explores interpersonal meaning in social media photographs, using the representation of motherhood in Instagram images as a case study. It investigates the visual choices that are made in these images to construe relationships between the represented participants, the photographer, and the ambient social media viewer. The author draws upon existing work on the visual systems of point of view and focalization to explore interpersonal meaning in these images, and proposes that an additional system – subjectification – is needed to account for the kinds of relationship between the viewer and the photographer that are instantiated in social photographs, as well as the ways in which subjectivity is signaled in these images. The dataset analyzed is the entire Instagram feed of a single user who posts images of her experience of motherhood and a collection of 500 images using the hashtag #motherhood.