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.
Fields of science
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