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Transient Images

Transient Images: Personal Media in Public Frameworks

Eric Freedman
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 218
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  • Book Info
    Transient Images
    Book Description:

    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 also considers authorship that situates the self as inherently engaged with and inscribed by information technology.

    All of the chapters inTransient Imagesexplore 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 Imagesdraws out the tensions that exist in images circulating in the digital era.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0328-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Picturetown, USA
    (pp. 1-24)

    This book began as a study of images; it started as an attempt to understand my personal fascination with a specific type of image production—the visual matter of cyberdating. But the more I indulged my obsession, the more futile were my attempts at any serious structural analysis, as the catalog of images kept expanding. The inventory continued to grow as new participants joined the fray of the online dating network, and those already participating updated or added to their photo albums. Confronted by this ever-widening array, my attention began to drift to the more generalizable and inherently meaningful aspects...

  5. 1 “Have You Seen This Child?” From Milk Carton to Mise en Abyme
    (pp. 25-52)

    We are a culture driven by fear, and we tend to assume the worst—our identities will be stolen; our children will be abducted; crime will overtake our neighborhoods; and our borders, both personal and national, will be crossed. Paranoia is a powerful phenomenon, and as often as it is attached to individuals, it is also put in motion in the broader social and historical field (as in cold war paranoia). Paranoia operates most effectively (or more aptly, disastrously) when it can be visualized; in the case of the cold war, the American documentary television movement of the 1960s supplied...

  6. 2 Private Photos/Public Traumas: National Memories and Moving Images
    (pp. 53-72)

    Our culture is littered with transitory personal images. Any single photo can circulate through multiple spaces and be inserted into a wide array of interfaces, all of which articulate a movement away from a ground zero of sorts, where the memories elicited by the portrait are most closely aligned with the occasion of its manufacture. The image’s movement gives a spatial and a temporal dimension to an otherwise fixed representation; as the photo traverses space, either virtual or literal, it also evokes a nostalgic attachment best understood as the workings of the individual memory of each subsequent reader. When the...

  7. 3 Trauma and the Cellular Imaginary
    (pp. 73-96)

    At Motorola’s 2004 Analysts Meeting at the Westin O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, the company celebrated two enterprises—making seamless mobility real and making liquid media real. The realness in both cases was marked by the materialization of concepts, their embodiment (taking on physical form) in several distinct software, hardware, and interface technologies. Reviewing the former of these two pronouncements, Motorola’s press coverage claimed: “Seamless mobility—the interconnection of devices between operating systems, platforms, and media—was living and breathing at the Motorola 2004 Analysts meeting.”¹

    Seamless mobility is, in part, about marking the terrain, making the general field a...

  8. 4 Intervention and the Kodak Moment
    (pp. 97-112)

    Any discussion of private-to-public media flows inevitably turns to the subject of reality television, a format that promises privileged access to the real. The attention to authenticity is matched by the impulse to mobilize conflict and dramatic development, contouring lived experience to the formal rules of broadcast television. We can see reality television as an industrial projection of life itself, its producers crafting a vision of better living through television by providing a view of things more worthwhile, more interesting. I am not being dismissive of the format, nor is it my intent to establish a hierarchy that privileges the...

  9. 5 The Architectures of Cyberdating
    (pp. 113-139)

    In the previous chapters, I have identified a number of distinct drives that motivate the use of personal images, urging us to send them out into various public domains. We use them as devices of memory and recovery, as agents that can serve these restorative impulses. But, on occasion, we use our images to fulfill a different desire as we forge a forward-looking narrative. In a move that seems counter to fear and paranoia, many of us have thrown caution to the wind and joined online social networks with no decided aim other than to find old acquaintances and double...

  10. 6 The Social Fabric of Images
    (pp. 140-176)

    More interesting than the entrance of the Google trademark into the lexicon is the manner in which its active form—“googling”—bridges two distinct activities: looking for and looking at. The term is a semantic and structural neighbor to another voyeuristic term—“ogling.” As the search engine pulls together several customizable menu-based channels (that include the Web, images, maps, news, and shopping), we can quickly move across media forms, spaces, and activities without ever changing the initial terms of our search; such movement creates a rather absurd hybrid text, with a web of term-based intertextuality that is nevertheless grounded in...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 177-198)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-210)
  13. Index
    (pp. 211-218)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-219)