I recently spoke at a symposium at Manchester University on the subject of social media and the Israeli military. The talk I gave at this event was on the circulation of images from on-line to off-line and back again, focussing on the case of Eden Abergil the ex-Israeli soldier who posted photographs of her during her military service posing in front of bound and blindfolded Palestinians on her public Facebook wall in August 2010. These images were circulated on line via other Facebook accounts, blogs and news sites as well as going off-line in the press. They were also turned into memes and were even reworked as a performance at a demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil’in. This demonstration was then documented as photographs and video that ended up on websites, Youtube, and back in the press. The demonstration performance was even turned into a painting by the Israeli artist David Reeb.
The reason for mentioning all this in this blog post is that to write my talk all these relationships between images needed mapping somehow and I needed to do this quickly as I did not get to write my talk until the night before the symposium. I decided to use the wall of my office to organise the images that I wanted to talk about and to organise the things that I wanted to say about them.
I found this approach really useful as it gave me a synoptic view of what I wanted to address and of the argument I wanted to make. I assume plenty of people have used this method of organising both visual and written material in the past. I adopted it as a way of dealing with this particular talk under the influence of the iconographer Aby Warburg’s ealry twentieth century project ‘Mnemosyne’ which was meant to be an atlas of image archetypes and a kind of art history without words. For this he organised photographs of different examples of the same motif (e.g., the Laocoon) on a board and then photographed the overall configuration. Anyway, I recommend this approach if you are finding it hard to organise the overall argument for a piece of writing.
Oh, and also here is a link to the paper I delivered at the symposium as a blog post on my own blog, if you are interested: “Now you get a picture you can put it in your Facebook“.