CFP -2016 English

Visualities in tensión: between emancipation and control

Periodo de recepción de originales: 01/01/2016-15/06/2016

“Only images in the mind motivate the will”, W. Benjamin

Over the last decade, research on cultural practice and communication has come to recognize the centrality of visual media, particularly on the Internet. However, spiralling figures regarding on-line video access and videogame usage have only occasionally been counteracted with a critical examination of concepts such as power, citizenship or democracy, even when acknowledging that the act of seeing increasingly appears as “a conceptual paradigm revealing the links between democracy and communication, between citizenship and the media” (Martín-Barbero y Rey, 1999: 70). In this context, “visuality” has tended to encompass not only that which is visible, but also the complex social, economic and political fabric that configures the ways in which we look and see, both literally and at a symbolic level; in short, a field crossed by unequal tensions and conflicts, in need of analyses that engage with the power mechanisms simultaneously supporting and undermining it.

At IC Journal we would like to discuss the confluence between visuality as a conflicted territory and the recent rise of an emancipatory visual culture that foregrounds new ways of relating to images present in critical cultural practices that range from auteur non-fiction filmmaking (Marker, Farocki) to exercises directly associated to spaces of protest. This involves not only subversive practice, but rather invokes a will to locate the fight for hegemony also at the level of images, reclaiming what Nicholas Mirzoeff terms “the right to look” (Mirzoeff, 2011) as a key aspect within contemporary societies. Significantly, these new emancipatory possibilities develop in constant tension with a “police order” (Rancière, 1995) that also makes use of digital tools to expand its field of action. Accordingly, commercial platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram have increasingly tended to promote non-conflictive material either politically (mostly through covert censorship), economically (copyright) or moral restrictions (i.e. the “Free the nipple” campaign in Facebook).

The questions that inform our proposal revolve therefore around the conflict between emancipation and control shaping contemporary visuality. To what extent is transformative practice defining a new, emancipated political subjectivity? Which subversive mechanisms are today contesting hegemonic visuality? How are new social movements and protest alternative ways of seeing? How does visual power impact on the way we understand democracy and citizenship? Are the acts of “seeing” and “being seen” occupying spaces previously reserved to knowledge? Which controlling mechanisms reaffirm hegemonic visualities? How does the tension between emancipation and control play out in commercial platforms on-line?

Contributions on the following topics are especially welcome:

  • Videoactivism and other forms of visual subversion
  • Surveillance and counter-surveillance in contemporary society
  • Collaborative film and video-making
  • Media Art
  • Alternative and Third Sector media
  • Memory and visual practice
  • Controlling mechanisms of on-line visuality
  • Co-creation and collective intelligence vs. commercial exploitation of user-generated content
  • Digital video and human-rights violations
  • Impact of on-line video practice within the public sphere
  • Visibility of minorities
  • Effects of the emergence of audiovisual practices over on-line newspapers
  • Copyright, Copyleft and Creative Commons
  • Political satire, propaganda and virality on the Internet (video memes)

Authors should submit their manuscripts though the digital platform OJS (, and for any queries should email IC staff at:

To be considered for publication in IC, all manuscripts must fully satisfy the requirements set out in the author guidelines available at:


Benjamin, W. (1929). “Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia”. In Bronner E. S. y MacKay Kellner, D. (eds.) Critial Theory and Society. A Reader. New York: Routledge.

Martín-Barbero, J. (1999). Los ejercicios del ver. Hegemonía audiovisual y ficción televisiva. Barcelona: Gedisa.

Mirzoeff, N. (2011). “The right to look”. In Critical Inquiry, n. 37. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rancière, J. (1995). La mésentente. Politique et philosophie. Paris: Galilée.