Conference – SnAppShots: Smartphones as Cameras – 22–23 October 2020

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

The deadline for the call for papers for the conference “SnAppShots: Smartphones as Cameras”, organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkskunde’s photography committee, has been extended until 15 June 2020. The conference will be hosted in collaboration with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin at the Museum für Fotografie.

A Paradigm Shift in the World of Images

The popularisation of the smartphone has brought with it a veritable a paradigm shift in the world of images – a revolution that has fundamentally changed not only everyday life and visual practices, but also professional disciplines. At the same time, with their limited communicative capacities, standalone digital cameras have decreased in importance since 2007, when the first smartphone arrived on the market. Camera sales are declining rapidly, and the “good old” digital camera seems to have become reserved for enthusiasts or specialists.

The Smartphone as a Universal Tool

The smartphone has become a universal tool for communication, consumption and media production. With the appropriate applications, we can shoot movies, create videos for YouTube and Instagram, and photograph in ambitious ways that were previously only possible with professional equipment, if at all. The resulting images and films are then able to be uploaded and published in real-time. Through messaging services such as WhatsApp, photographs and videos flow into everyday communication, and are shared and commented upon on platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

Exploring the Evolution of Digital Visualisation in Photography

In 2020, 12 years after the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkskunde’s photography committee held its first conference on digital photography, we want to explore how digital visualisation in photography and film has evolved, particularly through the smartphone. The focus will be on (but not limited to) everyday and professional smartphone practices. We also want to show how the internet’s major platforms – YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. – have responded to the influx of visual data.

Call for Papers

This call-out is also addressed especially to academics and colleagues at museums, universities, and archives who are engaged in research, theory and practice concerning forms of visual presentation using smartphones, or who have gained experience in this area. Papers might illustrate and analyse the following areas of inquiry:

  • Everyday and professional visual communication practices enabled by smartphones
  • Museum-related and archival use of smartphones in presentation, exhibition design and documentation
  • Problems and possibilities pertaining to the documentation and preservation of smartphone images for future generations in private and public archives
  • Visual practices on internet platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, eBay, Facebook, etc., and social media users’ curation of their own photographs
  • Meme cultures and the connection of words with images through hashtags
  • Photomontages, deepfake images, filters, image editing and questions of authenticity regarding smartphone images
  • Questions about the newly public nature of private images
  • Smartphone photographs and affective negotiations on the internet
  • Pedagogical opportunities and limitations in schools and universities involving the use of visual smartphone tools
  • Algorithmic racism in smartphone photographs and image-recognition programmes
  • The reception of exhibitions on Instagram and the question of the “Instagrammability” of artworks
  • Contrasting phenomena: the return of analogue photography

Only original contributions are eligible for submission. Please provide an abstract (max. 2,000 characters) summarising your topic and outlining your methodology and objectives. In addition, please submit a CV (max. 1,000 characters) including a maximum of three publications, where applicable. Please include your name, postal address, telephone number, and email address on the same page.

Presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes. The texts will be published in 2021 in an anthology as part of the series “Visuelle Kultur: Studien und Materialien” (Waxmann, Münster). We expect participants to provide a written version of your paper and high-quality images (min. 300 dpi, along with confirmation of the right to use the image) for inclusion in the publication. It is not yet clear whether we will be able to cover travel expenses.

The main conference language will be German.

Please email your abstract as a Word document to each of the following addresses before 15 June 2020:

Dr. Judith Schühle
Museum Europäischer Kulturen
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Im Winkel 8
14195 Berlin

PD Dr. Ulrich Hägele
Zentrum für Medienkompetenz/Institut für Medienwissenschaft
Wilhelmstraße 50
72070 Tübingen

Conference venue
Museum für Fotografie
Jebensstraße 2
10623 Berlin

We are currently proceeding on the basis that the conference will be able to take place in Berlin as usual. Should the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in autumn be such that a physical conference cannot take place, the event will be held digitally. A decision will be announced four weeks before the start date.