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Sociology Lecture: Paul Frosh, “The Poetics of Digital Media: Tagging as Incantation and Incarnation on Social Network Platforms.”

THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2019 AT 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM 

Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center, D1103

6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103

The Sociology department welcomes Paul Frosh with his lecture entitled, “The Poetics of Digital Media: Tagging as Incantation and Incarnation on Social Network Platforms.”

In his new book, The Poetics of Digital Media (Polity 2018) Frosh approaches digital media as poetic infrastructures and poetic performances: they populate our given lifeworlds with beings and objects and they also make manifest the mediated conditions of our existence through tangibility and disclosure. In this talk, Frosh fleshes out these ideas by focusing on the experience of being tagged in photographs uploaded to social media platforms. He argues that being tagged is a contemporary intensification of long-standing procedures for maintaining our being in the world: the naming of persons and the figural incarnation of bodies. However, tagging is also a generative procedure: when you tag someone your contacts and theirs are notified, and the tagged photograph is frequently replicated in contacts’ various feeds. It is thus a way of performing sociability through the computational ‘selving’ of others, usually without their prior permission. Finally, tagging puts visual ‘flesh’ onto the informational and computational ‘bones’ underpinning the network apparatus. It thus produces a powerful poetic-ideological effect: the palpability of the apparatus as a sensuously inhabited world.

Paul Frosh is a Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research spans visual culture, media aesthetics, consumer culture, media witnessing, and cultural memory. His publications include The Poetics of Digital Media (2018), Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communication (2011, edited with Amit Pinchevski), and The Image Factory: Consumer Culture, Photography and the Visual Content Industry (2003).

This event is sponsored by the Sociology Department at the New School for Social Research.

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