Guest Lecture: Dr. Donatella Della Ratta


Time: Friday, 20 November 2015, 15:00-17:00.

Location: Vondelzaal, University Library (Singel 425)

The Cities Seminar is hosting Dr. Donatella Della Ratta (Copenhagen University) who will deliver a lecture titled “The Question of the Image in the Networked Age: handwritten notes, Flipcam diaries, and YouTube remixes from the battlefield in Syria”.

This talk explores the question of the image in the networked age, focusing on Syria as a highly contentious geographical and symbolic site where warfare and violence are produced and reproduced on the networks as much as they are performed on the ground. Borrowing from an idea developed by French philosopher Guy Debord (1967) long before the Internet, I argue that visual cultures originated on and through networked communications technologies are not about the mere accumulation of images and their viral dissemination; rather, they define a new “social relation among people, mediated by images” whose material, sociological, and ethical implications have not been fully explored. Particularly in contentious contexts such as the ongoing Syrian conflict an emerging political economy of networked images surfaces, where material violence and media visibility, physical destruction and technological reproduction have dramatically become intertwined.

Drawing on the Syria case, this talk reflects on the novel political forms and aesthetic formats being generated at the intersection of violence and technology, between the annihilation produced by warfare and the endless regeneration boosted by the online life granted by the networks. It raises issues which are not only relevant in the context of Syria, but should be discussed within a broader reflection on the question of the image in the networked age, such as: how does the networking of meaning through its circulation over new media platforms and its endless remixing by anonymous users affect meaning itself? Does the networking of meaning ultimately destroy meaning?

The preparatory reading can be found here:

Della Ratta, D. (2015) Violence and Visibility in Contemporary Syria: An Ethnography of the “Expanded Places.” Cyber Orient 9 (1).