so what is vis soc all about?

Is it Visual Sociology or Sociology of the Visual (world)? Is it practice or theory? Observation or intervention? Documentary or analysis? Qualitative or quantitative methods? Or both? Or all of it? Is it about perception or about images? Concerned with process and the making of worlds through seeing or with time and space fixed on film or within a combination of zeros and ones? And what about text? Isn’t the layout of each page (and web page) a visual message, too?


here is a – quickly compiled and not conclusive – list of web pages that wonderfully demonstrate that there is plenty of answers… Have a look yourself:


And here some thought developed at Goldsmiths… by Les Back (in: Back, Les. 2007. The Art of Listening. Oxford; New York: Berg):

“The quality of the images operates outside of language and the conventions of The Word. Yet, at the same time, there is something to be listened to in these silent portraits. Part of what is compelling about them is that they contain voices that are present yet inaudible. We have to listen to them with our eyes.” (Back, 2007: 100)

“the lens is not always about the control and fixing of subjects. To see photography as merely a governing technology misses the instability and complexity of the drama that unfolds on either side of the lens. […] It is a mistake, I think, to see the lens as only looking one way. […] Cameras in this context are like windows that look out onto the street, and through which the street looks in.” (Back, 2007: 104)

to make sense of these quotes, please have a look at the following images by Anthony Luvera — although not the ones Les Back refers to in his book — at

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