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Visual Methodology: Toward a More Seeing Research

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Julie Swedin

on 7 April 2015

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Transcript of Visual Methodology: Toward a More Seeing Research

Welcome to
Visual Methodology! Toward a More Seeing Research
, Jon Prosser

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, why are you reading this essay?" (Schwartz, 2009)
Nothing will stop visual methods' becoming one of the most important qualitative research methodologies in the 21st century
Qualitative researchers are taking up the challenge to understand a society increasingly dominated by visual rather than verbal and textual culture
Visual Culture focuses on what can be seen
Visual Research: Invisible a decade ago. . .now we have no choice but to look!
Presented by, Julie Swedin
What Am I Seeing?
Visual, is not about an image or object in itself
More concerned with the perception and the meanings attributed to them
The terms
to visualize
refer to researchers' sense-making attributes
Epistemologically grounded
Include concept formation, analytical processes, and modes of representation (Grady 1996; Wagner, 2006)
What Are We Seeing? Questions a Visual Researcher focused on perceptions might ask:
Do you interpret the image in the same way, or do you each see something different?
What determines how we see and understand an image?

Now the malaise for things visual has been replaced by positive engagement following a general awakening to the significance and ubiquity of imagery in contemporary lives
Steve Gardner Panels, Featured in Yakima Valley Community College, Glenn Anthon Building
History of Debate that Shaped Contemporary Visual Research
Between 1970 and 2000--a dual paradigmatic disparity existed
Called the t
wo-headed beast
(Harper, 1998)
Researchers used images generated for empirical purposes versus those who studies meanings of images produced
were terms used to denote relative differences in perspectives (Empirical theory building versus critical analysis of everyday popular culture)
Intellectual tension existed between who read symbolic imagery and those who created images for research
By 2000, visual fluency part of all fields and disciplines of study
Representation of Visual Culture
Passion for the printed page still continues to dominate research
Only slowly is the screen emerging as a site for presenting findings of visual research
Struggle to present work outside of traditional word/print formate despite potential of digital delivery systems
Chris Jordan example of adopting a creative approach to make large numbers accessible and meaningful
Chris Jordan, Running the Numbers
Critical Reflection Needed
Determine what are advances in social science and visual representation and what are eye candy?
Central is the relationship between words and images: is it necessary to translate images into words; and is it necessary to provide captions for images?
Schwartz, 2007, for example challenges her audience to work harder at interpretation
An unexpected twist is reemergence of photos as visual representations rather than representations of research
"The myth of photographic truth" &
Goldstein's "All Photos Lie" (2007)

Innovative Digital technology and software opens new methodological possibilities for visual researchers including arts-based emergent visual paradigms
Arts-based visual paradigms has the greatest potential to be innovative and insightful in terms of imagery
"Images may us pay attention to things in new ways . . images are likely to be memorable . . .images can be used to communicate more holistically, incorporating multiple layers, and evoking stories or questions . . images encourage embodied knowledge . . . images can be more accessible than most forms of academic discourse . . .images provoke action for social justice" (Weber, 2008, p. 44-46).
Goldstein Photo, Gallery Photo from New York Ennui
Schwartz (2009b) works to make pictures prime and makes a case for pictures
" . . . pictures can offer us ideas and an irreducible experience that cannot be restated or translated into linguistic terms. Articulations produced through photographs can offer us insights . . .they can convey moods and emotions. They can generate novel ideas and inferences . . ."
Eugene Smith 1970's Iconic Image: Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath (photo revealed the effect of industrial mercury poisoning in Japan
David Gauntlett, Creative Explorations (2007)
Fresh insights about people's experiences are gained
Gauntlett claims "new creative methods" draw on people's needs to engage with the world
Gauntlett draws on participants' own resourcefulness and ingenuity
Participants are invited to spend time creatively making something metaphorical or symbolic about their lives and then reflect on their creation
Participants are introduced to the notion of "creative explorations" via simple experiments
"Build a creature" and then "in the next two minutes, turn the creature into how you feel on Monday morning or Friday afternoon"
Participants play with this idea, and, for example, a walrus-type creature is turned into a Friday afternoon feeling by adding a wagging tail, a zingy hairstyle, or a set of wheels!
An Opportunity for Visual Methods to support inclusive
Gives voice and agency to those least able in society
Important to respect people with disabilities and to accept they can be powerful, beautiful, and sexy
Visual methodologists can adopt an egalitarian stance and work alongside those most vulerable, underrepresented
Visual does not have primacy over other senses but, rather, other senses are part, but not all, of our engagement with the world
Sensory methods, such as using music, can support exploration of perceptions of disable people with limited communication skills--apt metaphor of "postcards from the edge" (those with disabilities often a long way off from research possibilities)

Disabled people make sense of their lives through the interplay of sensory relations not accessible through discourse
Ethical considerations
Visual researchers shoulder additional burden for ethics regulation
Ethical decisions should be made on the basis of care, compassion, and desire to act in ways that benefit the individual or group versus following universalist principles or absolute norms
Final idea--the power of visual methods--such as this PSA Campaign to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion shows why this an important qualitative 21st century research methodology!

"Diversity & Inclusion – Love Has No Labels (Gender, Color, Race, Disability) Skeleton Love Dance" PSA Campaign

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