Liquid Photography? Narrative and Technology in Digital Photographic Practices

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Reid, Kelly
Sociology , Digital Photography
This thesis is about emerging changes in photography and imaging related to digitization and how we might approach and understand them, particularly in terms of their impact upon how narratives are constructed. By focusing on the accounts of Queen’s University students this thesis examines the new ways of making, storing, distributing, and viewing images that have emerged with digital photography. Additionally, it looks at the cultural conventions of photography (particularly in relation to the documenting and organization of memory) that remain intact and have important implications for the reception of use of new digital technologies and how these are used to construct narratives. This thesis also looks at the digitization of photography in relation to broader theoretical debates about the dynamics and shifts associated with modernity, postmodernity and ‘global information culture’. Contemporary society is often seen as more capitalist, and in many ways, this is an era of increasing uncertainty, fluidity, and fragmentation. This thesis examines the affinity between the supposed ‘death of narrative’ in social theory and the ‘death of photography’ in terms of how they relate to the ordinary practices of amateur digital photographers. Specific focus is given to Bauman’s (2000) theory of ‘liquid modernity’ and how it offers a compelling account of contemporary society, specifically in terms of changes in narrative and how many individuals are faced with developing ‘biographical solutions’ to systemic problems of increasing uncertainty and fragmentation in the context of globalization and informationalization. In doing so, this thesis aims to address gaps in existing research on digitization that fails to capture the subtleties encountered in the everyday experiences of those engaged in taking the digital turn.
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