The article discusses a set of emerging techno-social practices that transform interpersonal interactions into acts of production of valuable, durable objects such as SNS-posts and videos. These practices rely on (and enhance) a new attentiveness towards the world (including social interactions, communication and quasi-autotelic activities) as Bestand/resource, from which value may be extracted. The rise of these practices and modes of attention obviously relies on new production and dissemination of technological infrastructures, but it also relies on and contributes to the evolution of hyperrational subjectivity, which is compatible with the demands of late-modern economies. Like corporations, ordinary people come to view leisure time interpersonal interactions as sites for the extraction of (often non-monetary) value through their objectification. The article demonstrates how the objectification and productivization of events remoulds both common everyday practices and extreme forms of criminality, all sharing a common cultural logic.
Fragments of mundane social life are increasingly filmed/photographed and published online, being made accessible to wide and unexpected audiences. This makes impression-management harder, but doesn't bring forth a total disciplining panopticism. Not only is photography collectively regulated by moral agency, sometimes it is also used by people to resist (or cope with) oppressive power and struggle over power. In some senses, this new regime-of-visibility even increases social equality. Foucault's statement that 'visibility is a trap' has great analytic purchase, yet it shows only part of the picture.
The article investigates the shift of much interpersonal communication from phone or face-to-face interaction to Instant Messaging, especially among teenagers. This objectification of conversation enabled changes in myriad social practices, as well as in regimes of intimacy and truth: New, invisible audiences are introduced to hitherto intimate situations for real-time consultations; intimacy, traditionally based on exclusivity in access to events and information, has to be reshaped under the new conditions as “network intimacy”; formerly separate events collapse into new frames, challenging traditional temporal sequencing of sociability; conversations are imbued with performativities of different sorts; and proof and evidence are introduced into interpersonal sphere where they weren't common before.
Mobile photography and the emergence of lay self-portraiture are often interpreted as emancipatory processes of increasing agency and self-revelation. This article challenges this view by examining photos published in online-albums and Social Network Sites (SNSs). Bourdieuvian field analysis is utilised to reveal the local forms of capital which characterise those sites as fields of cultural production. Special attention is given to the enabling function of photos in the exchange between cultural, corporeal and social capital. Unlike both 'home mode' photos aimed for family and friends and professional photos aimed for strangers, photos in SNSs are an instrument aimed at making strangers into friends through their incorporation in a consumerist visual representation of society as a catalogue. Rather than an expression of a reflexively chosen identity, the photos produced by different actors are explained by their corresponding position in the field and composition of capital, as well as by the photos' functionality
Many sexual encounters are nowadays photographed by the participants. The paper examines the photographed sex in the historical contexts of the visualization of sexuality, pleasure and desire; and the new norms of photographed self-documentation. Based on research conducted in Israel, I show that photographed sex produces new sorts of not only pleasure, but knowledge: about one's self, partner, sexuality and relationship. This “objective”, visual knowledge is often privileged over subjective, haptic knowledge. Photography also introduces new peformativities, encourage borrowing from media-representations of sex and rational self-improvement.
The paper examines the new roles assumed by digital photography in romantic relationships. Research conducted in Israel demonstrates that the ubiquitous digital and phone cameras have been incorporated into multiple scripts of courtship, reconciliation, eroticism, and relationship formation. Photography often functions as a non-verbal method of expressing an interest in the other party during courtship, of framing the relationship, and of negotiating its status. Being semiotically laden, photography between partners is more structured and done much more cautiously than photography among friends. Photography also helps lovers in "doing romance", serving as a tool for the production of romantic moments, eroticism and playfulness, thus reshaping emotions and moods in present time rather than in future consumption of photos qua artefact.
Digital cameras are now intensively used by ordinary participants of Jewish mass rituals. The article explores how their introduction led to religious change and re-definition of sacred time/space. I first outline the development of new religious technologies-of-self, in which videos of mass rituals are used for mediated interaction with the sacred and for emotional, moral and spiritual management and self-disciplining. I then address the transformation of traditional rituals: seen as embodied motional and vocal performances, rituals are affected by the physical engagement with cameras, whereas photography is incorporated into ritual scripts as a ritual role.
The nostalgic consumption of images, which only a few years ago was practised mainly by adults, has lately become prevalent among Israeli teenage girls. Girls often describe themselves as ‘nostalgic’ and nostalgia has become a desired emotion. Unlike the nostalgia of former generations, this nostalgia is cumulative and not necessarily based on a strong dichotomous contrast between past and present. The transformation of nostalgia is closely related to developments in technology (the camera-phone and the internet) and in the possession-patterns of devices. Personal mobile phones are used by teenagers for production, archiving and consumption of documentary images on a daily basis. These images, not unrelated to those of mass media, are consumed by teenagers in order to evoke nostalgia and other emotions, as a technology of self. This trend also contributes to blur the ontic distinction between events and their representations.