IDENTITY COMMUNICATION THROUGH PICTURE CAPTURE AND ITS BROADCASTING IN SOCIAL NETWORKS
Nowadays, carrying around mobile devices capable of capturing images to be called “photographies”, as well as the ease with which technology allows us to publish them on social networks, is a fact that has become naturalized, opening up for the receptor a channel of multiple interpretations. Likewise, that same device grants us unnumbered ways to modify them, systematize them, automate them or even plagiarize them. As a consequence, this fact has so great an impact on society that the new generations take it for granted, and make a habit of something that has barely begun to be the subject of research in order to differentiate its becoming adapted from its becoming naturalized, and meet due regulations a posteriori.
This habit of “sharing” images on social media encourages anonymity and under that guise new hazards for web surfers have come into play, such as identity theft, hacking, trolling, stoking...
The fact that this is a “naturalized” phenomenon that has been welcome by a number of human societies, does not prove that it has been “normalized”, since there are no norms harnessing the aforementioned possibilities that pose potential harm for web surfers.
Investigating the authorship of an image that has been published in social media calls for a multidisciplinary approach, in order to yield a transdiciplinary outcome; that is, a crossbreed between different theories and sciences. Cultural identity, vernacular semiotics, personal semiotics of the web surfer, as well as knowledge both of the device and of the structure of the picture itself, render data about the identity behind the sought-for anonymous. In the same manner, Gestalt principles of image, ophthalmology, together with knowledge of photography optics and neuroscience –among other sciences-, are at the same time components and foundation of the object of study of this investigation –still in trial mode- called Psychography: Drawings Of The Mind.
Many photography experts and communicators use the expression “Democratization of image” to describe the masses’ widespread consumption of mobile devices with apps for capturing images instantly. It leads us to the etymological definition of our subject, “democracy”:
1. Political system where the people freely elect those who govern them. Liberties were reinstated in Spain and censorship ended as transition and democracy came about.
2. Doctrine or notion that safeguards the people’s participation in important matters of government: democracy is the political ideal because government is by the people.
If images shared over social networks are ruled by society (vox populi), then it is important to mention the conditions imposed on users by each social network. The most popular social networks allow postings that can later be censored; for instance, the naked human body, due to explicit sexual content (in whose opinion?), or by the interpretative discomfort of another user/receptor.
But let us not digress about limitations that social networks adopt and impose on their users. The purpose of psychographic research is getting to know, as closely as possible, the identity of the anonymous person generating the image, regardless of the obviated, observable content.
First world governments of our time invest in research and studies in order to detect -a priori- negative events that hurt society. Those countries are worried about the widespread use and/or free-access democratization and communication costs of networks that are harmful to their nations. In less pandemic terms, it is important to exert some “control” or to be able to detect –a priori- who are the ones inflicting harassment, stealing identities, among other hazards against smaller sectors such as the community where we belong or even every society’s basic cell: the family.
It is easy to mix up the various applications of Psychography. First of all because it’s a new, propositive tool. Like any new object or event, it must be compared to something in order to comprehend it or use it.
This study -born in Mexico nine years ago-, is still in the testing phase. However, from the perspective that it is expounded, a barrier stands in the way: our current Constitution, because according to it no offense can be prosecuted until it becomes consummated. That is why fellow nationals are not interested in the early detection of acts that might be illegal. However, this pursuit spreads widely on its own, throughout the social network, reaching people interested in preventing unlawful acts.
In Mexico, those who have donated their images for study and examination are pioneers who hold Psychography in high regard. Psychography comprehends -both at individual and collective levels- that mental map that automates us as society. Its therapeutic application came about per se. But, as we explained before, there is a pandemic of other applications stemming from the data and projection offered by images. For every nation and individual, there is an application.
Statements by authors who support research. How can an image “reveal” the identity of the one who captured it? In order not to dwell on long-winded explanations, let us just say that technocracy has enshrouded the possibilities of new, simple tools: observation and a multidisciplinary approach. These two allow for a simple outcome which at the same time is complex because of its transdisciplinariety. It all lies in knowing how to observe the image that has been offered us for its psychographical reading, divide it in the number of quadrants proposed by the study itself, and “interpret” the gestaltic lines captured in the picture. This is based in the fact that our eyes are conscious of one ninth of whatever image they see, or 30% of it2. The remaining of the image is visual unconsciousness. A projection from the subconscious can very likely take place in 70% of the perimeter, which the eye sees without being aware of it. Let us gradually unfold an explanation about this, quoting several authors’ definitions.
Consciousness. Rooted in the Latin voice conscientia (“with knowledge”), consciousness is a word that describes the physical act by means of which we perceive ourselves in the world. Furthermore, consciousness is a property of the human spirit that allows us to see ourselves in terms of essential attributes. Let’s not forget that the word “psyche” -of Greek origins-, translates as a duality: mind and/or soul. That might be the origin of the phrase, “eyes are windows to the soul”.
Focus. “State of mind that lets us fix our attention on something without getting distracted”. In photo composition we talk about points of interest and the Rule of Thirds. This makes the viewer aware of the obviated subject, without straying from the symbolic load that it confers semiotically on every culture. This is dealt with in the book Blind Spot.
“Never before had anyone noticed a blind spot in the eye. Actually, that blind spot is very sneaky and cannot be detected by chance. Even if we close one eye and look around, we won’t be able to detect it unless we diligently seek for it”5.
Fortunately, not everyone who uses cameras or mobile devices with apps for image capturing is familiar with these explanations, neither knowledgeable about the devices being used. He is not expected too. That is why they are called “users”. We are not talking here about photographers.2 2008 Campimetry, Optical Instruments, University of Barcelona; Fontanela J. R., Grau M.
5 Blind Spot. Lobo Enrique y Gómez Milán Emilio
“From this it follows that perception is largely dependent on memory”. Bergson6 also said, perceiving is mostly remembering”, since we see only what we know how to see, and what we know how to discern. This “knowing how to see” depends directly on the information that is already stored in our memory. Our perceived reality reveals us the pattern system operating in our memory7.
Photographers are visually educated people. They have nothing to do with camera users, or users of mobile devices with image-capturing apps. Photographers are knowledgeable of the physics of light. That is how they got their name: photo = light. Photographers look for the best angles trying to convey with light the insights they want to get across, their desired intention according to the field of their photographic expertise, and they even pick the lenses that best frame the narrative that they –as authors- want to expound or communicate.
This is what I call The Rule Of Three P’s, which are: Perspective + Proportion yield Perception. This last one can still get distorted by the viewer’s interpretation, yielding a fractal interpretative result. Maybe this is where the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes from. Those thousand words represent said interpretations, which lead us to collective, cultural and personal semiotics.
This is how research on psychography got started some years ago before becoming multidisciplinary, so that its interpretation is not a projection of the interpreter, who at this point will be called “psychographer”.
“All knowledge operates through the selection of meaningful data and the rejection of data that are not meaningful. It divides (tells apart, disassembles), and brings together (associates, identifies); it organizes in a hierarchy (the main, the lesser), and centralizes (based on a nucleus of key notions). These operations, that resort to logics, are in fact commanded by ‘supralogic’ principles of though organization or paradigms; hidden principles that rule our vision of things and of the world, without our awareness”8.
“Science constitutes a knowledge of a special kind. It deals primarily, though not exclusively, with unobservable events unsuspected by the uneducated layman, such as the evolution of stars and the duplication of chromosomes. It invents and tries conjectures beyond common knowledge, such as the laws of quantum mechanics or those of conditioned reflexes; and it tests such assumptions with the help of special techniques…” Bunge9 (2004)
Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics Summary and Analysis of Book One:
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