April 24 Challenge of Art-Based Research by Laurel Hart

Insta.nalysis: Combining social media photography applications with blended arts-based research methodologies

During our media biotope salon in April, Laurel Hart, a visiting SSHRC scholar from Montreal, Canada gave a presentation entitled “Insta.nalysis: Combining social media photography applications with blended arts-based research methodologies.”

IIIT U Tokyo Insta.Nalysis .pptx

In this presentation, Hart shared her research of mobile photography as alternative media source, and the role of social media practices in the creation and sharing of local knowledge, as well as means of informal community education. The term mobile photography is used to describe social-media based photography practices that take place on smartphones through the use of sharing and editing applications, such as Instagram. In her presentation, Hart demonstrated how mobile photography can be viewed as an alternative, grass-roots media practice that enables individual and collective identity construction. She also explained how researchers could implement mobile photography as a key feature of a research methodology that combines arts-based research methods with the qualitative method of grounded theory (for more information see Hart, 2013).

Hart provided a brief overview of her 2011 #mymontreal research project, which was designed as a self-study to identify how mobile photography could facilitate artistic, open-ended and inductive research. Key characteristics of her method include: 1) an ongoing, daily photographic practice within a determined context, 2) the use of tags to assist with interpretation of images, as well as initial categorization of like groups (the tags function as instantaneous, participant generated codes), and 3) the use of photo-elicited memories triggered by review of the images and the grouping of images based on reoccurring themes.

This “mobile photography methodology” incorporates a multitude of unique characteristics present within the technology and daily practice of mobile photography. The resulting research goes beyond the written word to create a visual and poetic, intimate and affective presentation of participant’s first-hand experiences surrounding a given topic (Hart, 2013).   By utilizing a modified version of constant comparison to group the photos, key themes can be developed inductively, and layered meanings are presented through the exhibition of groups of images that are presented together with poetry or prose developed from photographic captions, tags and participant’s associated memories (Hart).

Hart, L. (2013). Instant Analysis: Mobile Photography as a Research Method. Canadian Art Teacher. 12(1), 24-27.

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