Digital-Networked Images as Personal Acts of Political Expression: New Categories for Meaning Formation

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Digital-Networked Images as Personal Acts of Political Expression: New Categories for Meaning Formation


  • Mona Kasra Department of Drama, University of Virginia, USA


Abstract  This article examines the growing use of digital-networked images, specifically online self-portraits or “selfies”, as deliberate and personal acts of political expression and the ways in which meaning evolves and expands from their presence on the Internet. To understand the role of digital-networked images as a site for engaging in a personal and connective “visual” action that leads to formation of transient communities, the author analyzes the nude self-portrait of the young Egyptian woman Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, which during the Egyptian uprisings in 2011 drew attention across social media. As an object of analysis this image is a prime example of the use of digital-networked images in temporally intentional distribution, and as an instance of political enactment unique to this era. This article also explains the concept of participatory narratives as an ongoing process of meaning formation in the digital-networked image, shaped by the fluidity of the multiple and immediate textual narratives, visual derivatives, re-appropriation, and remixes contributed by other interested viewers. The online circulation of digital-networked images in fact culminates in a flow of ever-changing and overarching narratives, broadening the contextual scope around which images are traditionally viewed.


Keywords  Arab Spring; feminist art; online images; political expression; self-portrait; selfies; social media; visual communication


Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 265 Downloads: 141



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/mac.v5i4.1065


© The author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.