Seeing More Than We Can Know: Photo Sharing and Culture

Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Barbara Luka

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Photos shared online are influenced by environment and culture, and can provide information about the sexual preference or professional success of the subject. Accurate assessments can be made from a photo of a person, but what can be known about a photographer from the photos he or she takes? The research proposed here addresses this question using photos shared publicly on the Internet from mobile devices. Rapid cognition allows for information to be inferred quickly, an essential process when using a mobile device on the go. The accuracy of these inferences has great bearing on the perceptive abilities of the always digitally connected generation. Social media offers a greater level of interaction between different cognitive styles, such as the East-Asian interdependent and the Western independent styles. In particular, photo sharing services interface these styles in a measurable way. Research will show that people are unknowingly aware of aesthetic difference, and the cognitive styles they represent. The images freely shared by individuals on the internet display personally revealing content, of which the sharer may not be aware. Daily incidental and automatic image processing trains individuals to perceive more than they knowingly see.

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