Common Banality: The Affective Character of Photo Sharing, Everyday Life and Produsage Cultures

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesisResearch

View graph of relations

This dissertation investigates the emergent new media practice of mobile
blogging (moblogging) and photo sharing online, specifically focusing on
how this practice has evolved within a specific community in Copenhagen.
Through a 3.5 year long ethnographic fieldwork among everyday
photographers in Copenhagen and 14 individual interviews with
users, the dissertation both examines how individuals and collectives
integrate technology into their everyday lives, especially what
constitutes the process of becoming a moblogger. Compared to related
research this dissertation deals explicitly with everyday photographers
who document all the mundane and banal situations and contexts of their
daily life. It is primarily analytic rather than theoretical in its
approach. The analysis is centered on two main questions approached
differently throughout the chapters: 1. How user generated media
reconfigure the spectacle through changes in the production-consumption
circuit. 2. How everyday photography enables a creative practice relating
it to the affective character of everyday life and the urban environment.
These two aspects are approached with a combination of fieldwork data and
theory (primarily Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, Brian Massumi, Gilles
Deleuze, Roland Barthes, Stuart Hall, Gregory Seigworth and the
Situationist International).
The dissertation commences with a review of existing literature on camera
phone usage, moblogging and photo sharing. Chapter two deals with
different methodological issues related to my fieldwork, my interviews and
the development of a new research method. This method – dubbed the GRID –
was employed in group interviews with Flickr users in which they talked on
the basis of their own pictures about how everyday photography, moblogging
and photo sharing have been integrated into their everyday life. The
thesis does not have a specific theoretical chapter; different theories
are introduced throughout the analysis when considered relevant.
In chapter three the analysis begins with a mapping of how my informants
became mobloggers. This chapter will also describe what characterizes
photo sharing, everyday photography and moblogging as a photographic
practice. Along with this we will see why they have chosen Flickr as the
site to share their photos on, and we will also see how their style
developed. At this point it will already be evident that their community
is important for many of the practices that they participate in so in
chapter four we will look into community aspects.
In chapters five and six everyday life will be related to their practice.
Chapter five primarily deals with different theories of everyday life, in
that it tries to explain what it is about everyday life and its mundane
character that makes them want to document it. In explaining this we will
witness how capitalism and everyday life, with its mundane habits and
routines, foster a creative form of play when documenting our everyday
life. We will also identify how the practice of everyday photography and
photo sharing mediates between Lefebvre’s triadic structure of everyday
life. Especially the affective character of everydayness provides an
argument for developing an explanation of why they document the most
mundane and banal aspects of everyday life. This chapter also identifies a
new form of aesthetic living through a reconfiguration of Mike
Featherstone’s theory. In chapter six we focus on how everyday
photography, moblogging and photo sharing are integrated into the
structures and different practices of everyday life. We will view their
practice as a form of rhythmanalysis in which a new rhythm is created by
specific relations between time, space and agency, resulting in a
reconfiguration of the concepts of presence and present. This will lead us
into chapter seven in which we will focus on various collaborative
practices related to the way in which value is generated for the users of
Flickr, and also look into how the creation of meaning and signification
becomes collective and thus restructures the spectacle.
Chapter eight deals with the relations between the city, moblogging and
photo sharing, illustrating how these practices enable an electronic form
of psycho-geography and dérive, techniques important for the revolution of
everyday life as it was put into practice by the Situationist and Debord.
Chapter nine will identify how user generated content can become enclosed
within capitalistic structures, thus transforming their practice into
relations that resemble work. In mapping how this happens, new places for
a Marxist critique in contemporary society characterized by new means of
production will be identified. In chapter ten the conclusion will
summarize some parts of the dissertation by mapping the different
reconfigurations that have been identified throughout the thesis.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
ISBN (Print)978-87-7949-195-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

ID: 278233