The Public Image

The International Visual Sociology Association 2013 Annual Conference "The Public Image"
took place from 8 to 10 July 2013 at Goldsmiths, University of London. See conference program.

Session "Street Art, the City and the Public: Changing the Urban Vision"

Organizers: Natalia Samutina and Oksana Zaporozhets

During the last 10-15 years the walls and pavements of big cities became canvases for huge figures by Roa and Roadsworth, gave shelters to tiny characters by Slinkachu and Isaak Cordial, and in general became the surfaces for many different types of images associated with the international street art movement. Contemporary street art is an innovative artistic practice with thousands of participants and viewers all around the world. It is also a powerful collection of images waiting for their researchers, and, last but not least, an effective tool changing urban vision or highlighting some insufficiencies in our ability to see (in) the city. Inscribing images into the city surface, street art increases the spatial sensitivity of the urban citizens. It inspires a variety of performances and practices contributing to the complexity and dynamism of urban visual landscape. It turns invisible/insignificant/alienated places into the new public domains, new scenes of urban communication. Thus, street art provides a perfect opportunity to study urban vision: how and where the urban dwellers look, what they see and do not see, which characteristics of the image make it visible and important for someone, what kind of public can be brought to life by street art itself. The intensification of visual communication among different groups of the public (street artists, tourists, urban citizens, municipalities) via street art questions with new sharpness the correspondence of aesthetics and politics, message and perception, visual and corporeal, public and private, visible and hidden in contemporary city space.

Street art challenges visual methodologies working with images, their production and perception in (post)modern world. The heterogeneity of the world makes this challenge even more powerful. While talking about street art, “the city” and “the public”, we are talking about different cities and publics, different norms of communication in the city space, different traditions of looking and seeing in urban settings.

We suggest to discuss the following aspects of visual communication via street art in the city space:

  • Street art: Reshaping the Cityscape
  • Street Art and the Transformations of Urban Vision
  • Street Art and Site Specificity: Different Cities, Different Experiences
  • Street Art on the Internet and in the City
  • Street Art and Global Tourism; Visual Practices of Street Art Tourist (street art photography, in particular)
  • Methodological Perspectives of Analyses of New Urban Visual Experiences: Visual Sociology, Visual Anthropology and Beyond.

Session Program:

Jordanna Matlon. Toulouse School of Economics. “This is how we roll”: Black masculinity, visibility, and the status economies of bus portraiture on the African urban periphery

Michele Martini. University of Bologna. Inside-Out Project: from the face to the surface

Natalia Samutina (Chair). National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow. An invisible community of vision: graffiti writer Oz and the production of (different) Hamburg

Oksana Zaporozhets (Chair). National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow. «Sticky Signs»: Nomadic Place Making in PostSoviet Cities (the case of Tsoi Walls)

Ralph Richter. University of Technology, Darmstadt. How city-related knowledge helps us to understand Street Art


Myrto Tsilimpounidi. University of East London. See the Writing on the Wall: Street Art and Urban Poetics in Athens

Peter Bengtsen.  Lund University. Bridging the islands of consciousness: on street art’s potential to affect our perception of public space

Axel Philipps. Leibniz Universität, Hannover. The reception of street art in the Internet: A visual content analysis

Rickie Sanders, Bogdan Jankowski. Temple University, University of Lodz. The Image of the Street: In(secure) spaces, Desires, Anxieties, and Contemporary Urban Social Struggles