Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Special Issue

Introduction - Visual Representations of Femininities and Masculinities

  • Karl Kaser
In the digital age, visual representations have become more meaningful than ever before in history. The Internet, countless portals, blogs, social network sites, digital television and movie images, and illustrated newspapers and magazines – they all contribute to picturizing our everyday and perhaps also not so everyday lives. From a historical point of view the creation of user-generated content on the Internet constitutes an important turning point in the relationship between the human being and the creation, consumption, and distribution of images. The novelty of digital visual communication compared to its conventional analogous predecessors is its increasing impact on the social construction of reality in at least four ways. First, it opens the practice of visual communication to large parts of the population and blurs the distinction between producer, distributor, and consumer of visual objects. Second, it enhances the productive capacity of visual technology beyond reality itself, into the hyper-real e.g. enabling the production of images that transcend the human perspective. Third, it creates a logic for the representation of reality that enhances the social value of visual communication in the sense that a message must be visual if it has to be relevant at all. Fourth, it enables and accelerates the circulation of images across material and immaterial obstacles such as borders, cultures, language, status, and gender to more conventional forms of communication.