Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty of Digital Media & Creative Industries

Visual Methodologies

The Visual Methodologies research group develops visual methods for applied social research. The lectureship focuses on the role of images in digital culture and creates its own visual material to be used as 'tools for research'. The research takes place in interdisciplinary (and mostly international) teams of researchers, designers, developers, journalists and thematic experts.

Visual Methodologies studies, among other things, the role of images in digital culture. What images are shared on social media around important social issues? How do they differ from one another? And how can we use visualisations online and on location to engage different target groups in a social debate? So for the professorship, visualisations are not the visual capstone of a project, but an important step in the research process. A step that can offer insight into the complexity of an issue, facilitate a discussion with a particular target group or inform decision-making.

One of the social issues that the professorship deals with is climate change. An urgent topic that is discussed not only in social debate, but also in political, scientific and activist contexts. In one of our research projects, we looked at what images are shared online on the topic of climate change and especially which images generate the most interaction, such as most shared or liked. We then compared how that imagery varies by online platform. The differences are significant. On Facebook, people share slogans about climate in colourful typography with images of celebrities or cute animals. On Instagram, we see stunning 'National Geographic' photography of landscapes threatened by climate change, and in Google search results we see all the clich├ęs, such as polar bears in distress. With such analysis, we examine the current imagery of climate change, but at the same time learn more about online platforms. In digital visual research, the study of the subject goes hand in hand with the study of the medium. Such research can in practice help people working on such social issues, including to develop better campaigns.

The Visual Methodologies chair works closely with education. The minor Makerslab - a faculty-wide minor on making as a research practice - and the course Issue Mapping for Fashion at the AMFI master Fashion Enterprise Creation, are important examples of this collaboration. In addition, the lectureship collaborates with the Digital Society School, in the Data Driven Transformation track. Students from all undergraduate programmes at the faculty and the UvA master's programme New Media & Digital Culture are welcome to apply for an internship, final project or thesis.

Visual Methodologies is one of the eight professorships that make up the knowledge centre. The knowledge centre is part of the Faculty of Digital Media & Creative Industry within the University of Applied Sciences.

24 October 2022

  S.M.C. Niederer (Sabine)

Professor Visual Methodologies

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