Tag Archives: visual methods

Visual Geographies: Auto-photography and the Earth at Night

Earth_at_Nightby Fiona Ferbrache

New images of the Earth at night have been released by scientists at NASA.  With lighting levels recording 250 times better resolution, these are said to be the most detailed images ever produced. This means that faint lights, such as an isolated highway lamp or a fishing boat, are being detected by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, which was launched in October 2011.  NASA claims that the lights detected from space include human settlement, wildfires and volcanoes, oil and gas wells, auroras, and light of the moon and stars reflected from water, snow, cloud and desert surfaces.

As well as identifying sources of night light, the same satellite is able to take measurements of light emissions and reflections to help assess the human footprint from a global perspective.

These global images link to the theme of photography in an early view Area paper.  Lombard’s (2012) article on auto-photography opens with the suggestion “that visual methods are becoming increasingly prevalent in geographical research”.  Accordingly, Lombard argues for auto-photography as an important component of a mixed-methods approach to certain forms of geographical enquiry.

Lombard draws on her own research among Mexican residents to illustrate how auto-photography provides an understanding of residents’ perceptions of place.  These people are portrayed as relatively powerless individuals, but the camera acts as a tool enabling them to convey their experiences to others.  For researchers, Lombard argues that auto-photography complements alternative qualitative methods such as interviews, not only by igniting discussion of themes captured in the image, but also through improved relations between the researcher and the researched.

While Lombard’s paper contributes an understanding of Mexican residents’ sense of place, it is also significant in terms of situating auto-photography as a useful method  in human geography’s ‘visual turn’.

globe42  NASA’s images

globe42  Earth Observatory

books_icon  Dodman, D. 2003. Shooting in the city: an autophotographic exploration of the urban environment in Kingston, Jamaica

Area 35 293–304

books_icon  Johnsen, S. May, J. and Cloke, P. 2008 Imag(in)ing ‘homeless places’: using auto-photography to (re)examine the geographies of homelessness Area 40 194–207

books_icon  Lombard M. (2012) Using auto-photograph to understand place: reflections from research in urban informal settlements in Mexico. Area. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01115.

Area Content Alert: 44, 2 (June 2012)

Cover image for Vol. 44 Issue 2The latest issue of Area (Volume 44, Issue 2, pages 134–268, June 2012) is available on Wiley Online Library.

Click past the break for a full list of articles in this issue.

Continue reading

Content Alert: New Articles (20th January 2012)

These Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

A tale of two teens: disciplinary boundaries and geographical opportunities in youth consumption and sustainability research
Rebecca Collins and Russell Hitchings
Article first published online: 16 JAN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01075.x

Critical distance: doing development education through international volunteering
Kristina Diprose
Article first published online: 16 JAN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01076.x

Lightness and weight: (re)reading urban potentialities through photographs
Cian O’Callaghan
Article first published online: 18 JAN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01078.x

Original Articles

A ‘new Foucault’ with lively implications – or ‘the crawfish advances sideways’
Chris Philo
Article first published online: 16 JAN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00484.x

Boundary Crossings

Assessing the significance of soil erosion
G S Bilotta, M Grove and S M Mudd
Article first published online: 17 JAN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00497.x

Using the gaze of the camera

By Rosa Mas Giralt

The British Documentary Awards (or “The Griersons”) have just announced that this year’s award for Most Entertaining Documentary has been presented to Banksy’s film Exit through the gift shop. In accepting this prize, the mysterious and increasingly famous graffiti artist has not renounced his usual anonymity but has provided instead a pre-filmed acceptance speech in which he appears disguised and shows a customized graffiti version of his award. When the film was originally released, he also made a disguised media appearance in order to explain the genesis and subject of the documentary. In this appearance he stated:“The film is the story of when this guy tried to make a documentary about me, where he was actually a lot more interesting than I am, and now the film is kind of about him” (extracted from Ian Burrell’s blog Banksy wins award for documentary). In this instance then, the gaze of the camera was turned and used to provide a vision of Banksy’s world and street art in which the supposed filmmaker (known as Thierry Guetta) became part of the story being told.

Engaging with the power of the visual has been extremely important for the discipline of geography. Developments in critical scholarship and research methods have brought to the fore the potential of using visual approaches to reach and empower the voices of those who have traditionally been absent from knowledge production. In an article for Area, Sara Kindon (2003) provides an overview of participatory video techniques and how they can enable a feminist gaze or, in her words, “a feminist practice of looking”. Importantly, she argues for the use of participatory video in a way that does not perpetuate hierarchical power relations but instead carefully negotiates research partnerships and develops practices of looking nearby and not looking at (Kindon, 2003: 149).

 Read Ian Burrell’s blog Banksy wins award for documentary (The Independent website)

 Watch the trailer of Exit through the gift shop in YouTube

 Read Melena Ryzik’s article Riddle? Yes. Enigma? Sure. Documentary? (13th April 2010) on The New York Times website about the release of Exit through the gift shop

 Read Sara Kindon (2003) “Participatory video in geographic research: a feminist practice of looking?”. Area. 35(2): 142-153.