Andre G. Gray


Visual Culture. Chris Jenks and Instagram.

In The Centrality of the Eye in Western Culture, Chris Jenks puts forth the idea that we are constantly told to believe our eyes before all else and our visual memories as ultimate truth. (1) For Jenks, "the Modern world is very much a "seen" phenomenon." My question is "How does this reflection on modern society relate to things like emojis being so popular or instagram as a phenomenon?"

I have thought for a while about the "lies of our eyes" and the "lies of our visual memory". "we daily experience and perpetuate the conflation of the 'seen' with the 'known' in conversation through commonplace linguistic appendage of 'do you see?' or 'see what i mean?'" (3) For some reason, this idea always brings me back to the movie "12 Angry Men". As far as I remember, the key eye witness swears up and down that he or she remembers seeing the crime take place, I think it was a she. Right towards the end of the movie, it is revealed that the witness wears glasses and couldn't have seen the suspect clearly, despite adamantly swearing to have seen him. This always reminds me of how different you remembered a night out drinking, when you first wake up, when you have thought about it for a while, when you talk to your friends about what happened. I am not talking about blacking out, I am just talking about variability of one's memory and the ways in which memory can easily be influenced. I see memory as being closer to remembering a dream then taking a picture of something with a camera, which is the way we think of memory in Modern society. Taking a stab at answering my own question, I would say we “see” the world, we project the world visually in a way that twitter can’t by being verbal. We posture ourselves as visually appealing by curating a visual discourse around ourselves as an idea through the imagery we share in our accounts.

Jenks, Chris. "Centrality of the Eye in Western Society." Visual Culture. London: Routledge, 1995. N. pag. Print.

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