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VISUAL TRUST. Reliability, accountability and forgery in scientific, religious and social images

Project description

Images as mediums for (mis)information

In the age of (mis)information, trust is a big issue. Despite all the uncertainty, we still trust some images as mediums for knowing and communicating. The ERC-funded VISUALTRUST project will explore how visual trust is formed, conveyed, and assessed. This multi-disciplinary, comparative, and innovative study will develop a general theory of (mis)trust in images in today’s world. It will investigate the relationships established by people from different socio-cultural backgrounds with social images (documentary and photojournalism, as well as websites of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ news) and religious images and scientific images. Fieldwork will be carried out in different contexts (internet, worship centres, museums) in Europe, India, and the Caribbean.

Objective

Our present is immersed in a crisis of trust. This crisis is most evident in the domain of images, which are not perceived as visual evidence anymore. Faketuality, post-truth and misinformation are concepts used to refer to the alleged loss of objective patterns for assessing the truthfulness, accountability and reliability of the information we receive about the world. However, trust is not a matter of all or nothing: it is a contextual relationship, an issue of “ordinary ethics” whose study requires empirical data. Indeed, we must recognise that, despite living in times of (visual) uncertainty, we all still trust some images as mediums for knowing and communicating. But on what basis? VISUAL TRUST is a multi-disciplinary, comparative and innovative project aimed at developing a general theory of (mis)trust in images in the contemporary world. This project will develop an experimental investigation, both on-line and off-line, on how visual trust is crafted, conveyed and assessed. It will analyse the relationships established by individuals from different socio-cultural milieu with: (1) “social images” (documentary and photojournalism; websites of “real” and “fake” news); (2) “religious images” (Hinduism; Afro-American religions); (3) “scientific images” (outer space; inner human body). The project will focus on (a) image-making laboratories, (b) contexts of image circulation and reception and (c) patterns of iconic verification (the models employed to assess the reliability of images). Fieldwork will be carried out in different contexts (internet, worship centres, museums) in Europe, India and the Caribbean, in the vein of symmetrical anthropology. The research will be based on visual methods of which the PI has extensive experience (photo-elicitation, photography, cinema). This project will also lead to a plurality of outcomes (articles, books, films), thus contributing to current efforts towards a multi-modal and public anthropology.

Host institution

UNIVERSITAT DE BARCELONA
Net EU contribution
€ 1 605 250,00
Address
GRAN VIA DE LES CORTS CATALANES 585
08007 Barcelona
Spain

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Region
Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
€ 1 605 250,00

Beneficiaries (1)