Call for panel participants in the IVSA conference, taking place June 26-28 in Pittsburg, PA at Duquesne University. The theme for IVSA this year is "Visual Dialogues in Postindustrial Societies: Transforming the Gaze."
This CFP is only for a pre-formed panel entitled, "The Consumerist Gaze & the 'Post-Industrial' Longing for What's Real."
With the growing awareness and visual presence in the ‘post-industrial’ Global North of the deleterious effects of a capitalism gone awry—environmental degradation, paltry labor conditions, rising inequality—this panel seeks papers that interrogate ‘a consumerist gaze,’ a gaze that like other gazes enacts a unidirectional and hierarchical way of seeing. The consumerist gaze, as guided most broadly by the ideological and material transcendence of the productive sphere in favor of an intensified consumerist one, continually grants the idealized spectator glimpses into pre- or presently-industrializing lands, and racialized and impoverished distant others. While the consumerist gaze may be interpreted in any number of ways, this panel calls for papers that further its significance for post-industrial societies today and underscores issues of cultural, economic, political, or ideological structures of power as embedded within the visual form. Examples abound today—everything from the success of Etsy, the fair trade movement, and mission-driven businesses espousing societal benefit to craft beers, cocktails and chocolates. Additionally, corporations and non-profits alike enact the gaze through affective advertising images that frequently perpetuate nostalgia for “real labor.” What Sam Binkeley, Jo Littler and Sarah Lyon call a “de-fetishization” works towards unveiling Marx’s original commodity fetish through collaboration between image and word wherein, as Barthes states, the word “quickens” the spectatorial understanding of the visual. Thus, images of happy producers accompany personal stories of empowerment and consumers are even encouraged to scan QR codes in order to find out “the lady that made” a particular commodity in order to “write her a thank you note.”
While this panel does not seek to entirely discount the possible material impacts of such examples, it does urge visual scholars to further examine the new ways of seeing that emerge within a post-industrial consciousness.
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