Advances in Visual Methodology
Edited by Sarah Pink (2012)
I read this in one day, the weekend after my final classes as a MA student in Visual Anthropology, so I was looking for a book that would give me hope for the future of academia and adaptation to new media. If you’ve seen some of my vlogs you’ll know I have major issues with academia’s refusal to adopt new media quickly enough to stay relevant and engaging. This book has a wide variety of essays covering various aspects of visual methods, but I felt a disconnect between the editor’s purpose and the collective attitudes expressed by the writers.
The introduction seeks to make visual methods a more accepted, less contested in method within academia, yet some of the authors seemed to discuss it as if it was still speculation as to whether these were accepted methods. Visual methods should have been discussed as if the authors already believed these were legitimate forms of research and presentation (there were a few that did so, but not the majority). Many also still seemed hesitant to adopt new media and stressed having to prove that incorporation of such tools in a project should be justified.
No. Nope. Stop that right now.
If they believe the stance the intro laid out, then they shouldn’t also be questioning the very USE of other media. New media is facing the same speculation and critique as visual methods in academia, we should be striving to open up the minds of researchers to better use all the tools available. And I feel that “justifying” the use of a media in terms of a project should really be determined by the researcher. I use wordpress for fieldnotes and my topic is on fieldworkers. They are not related topics, but I’m not trying to make them so, I’m using a tool available to me. A tool I believe will be the very near future of academic endeavors (at least by younger generations who grew up alongside these advances, and are therefore less resistant to them).
I think that Sarah Pink’s efforts are admirable, but overall this proves that academia is still playing catch-up. Even the design of the book itself showed a lack of proficiency in visual design. The main headline font was Impact. Come on. Basic design lessons teach you to use a unique font (unless making an office flier). And the small percentage of visuals actually produced in this volume also screams contradiction. No, not every essay in this book was about a distinct visual project, but still, when trying to make an argument FOR something at least back that up with action.
I appreciate the effort put forth by some of the authors, but I can’t help but be very disappointed that even recent publications on visual methods are falling short, and in my opinion, hurting the overall argument to make it a legitimate form of methods.
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