Whither the life of online images?
Personal Media in Public Frameworks
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In this probing study, Eric Freedman focuses on what images from photography, mobile communications, and the Internet reveal about looking. Exploring subjectivity by critically examining the look, he elaborates on the nature of the photographic frame and its relation to interpretive practices. Freedman scrutinizes what he calls "technobiography"—a life written through technology, and considers the movement of personal images into public spaces. He considers how we, as autobiographical agents, are simultaneously engaged with and inscribed by information technology.
All of the chapters in Transient Images explore Freedman's interest in examining how media technologies activate particular notions of self and community. He provides examples that address trauma—pictures of missing children on milk cartons and episodes of the reality series Intervention—as well as the strategies behind creating and distributing personal advertisements on the Internet. Transient Images draws out the tensions that exist in images circulating in the digital era.
"The whole world seems to have become one huge slide night, as the means of communication shift from professionals to amateurs. How can we make sense of the personalization of public imagery, as private imagery goes public? Eric Freedman is our excellent guide via Transient Images, a well-written, fascinating series of investigations into Middle America's love of representing itself."
"Transient Images is an original and imaginative manuscript which brings together seemingly diverse phenomena—from images of missing children on milk cartons to those of traumatic events taken by mobile phone cameras. It is well-researched and beautifully written, with creative use of primary sources. The chapters on cyberdating and social networks are especially strong. Freedman’s nuanced position on digital culture is a welcome corrective to both overly utopian and dystopian discourses on new media technology. His conclusions are grounded in the concrete reading and textual analysis of the case studies."
"Freedman's category of 'life technobiographic' or 'technobiography' is an innovation in understanding how the image has corresponded with societal reevaluations from the simpler time of 'Kodak as you go' to the current crush of reality television and YouTube. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"Freedman's elegant new book…Transient Images is lyrically written, meditative, and palpably intelligent.... Freedman attends carefully to the precise desires, pleasures, and risks that unfold in each example. The work is enriched by its strategic selection of a broad range of everyday cultural artifacts and practices, as well as by a richly interdisciplinary methodology.... Significantly, the book offers a fresh take on thinking through the privileged role that networked and digital images play in relation to trauma.... Freedman has provided us with a lively new methodology for understanding our images and our selves in an era of transience."