Research Project: Visual Politics

Research Project: Visual Politics


My name is Roland Bleiker. I am the Project Leader of the Visual Politics Research
Program at The University of Queensland. We live in a visual age. Images increasingly mediate our engagement
with the material, social and political world. Film, television, and photographs influence how
we deal with phenomena as diverse as war, terrorism, humanitarian crisis,
and election campaigns. High-profile visual artists from
Anselm Kiefer to Ai Weiwei provide influential platforms for political dissent. New social media sources such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and photo blogs play crucial roles across the political spectrum from terrorist recruitment drives to social justice campaigns. Things are indeed moving very quickly. Most young people these days go to the web or to social media to find out what is happening in the world. They are exposed every day to
images from around the globe. And yet we know very, very little about the effects and the challenges this presents either now or in the future. Working with images and thinking about visual artifacts is essential to engage with political problems. But existing studies have largely
been disciplinary bound. While fields such as art history or media
communication and museum studies have long examined visual representations we know little about the implications of this visual
world for public debates and for policy-making. So the main aim of our visual politics research
program is to address this gap and to understand the far-reaching
political implications of images. It is indeed the first program of its kind in
Australia, and one of very few worldwide. Almost 50 researchers are associated with it. We are explicitly interdisciplinary and we are
building new and innovative collaborative links across the Faculty of Humanities and
Social Sciences and across the university. We also have links with a
range of international partners.

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