Research

The Visual Studies Lab explores visual cultures

Visual studies lab Unsplash
Tampere University has established a new hub for research on visuality and visual cultures. The Visual Studies Lab (VSL) not only brings together researchers who investigate visual cultures from the perspective of social sciences and the humanities but also promotes multidisciplinary and interuniversity collaboration.

Researchers based at VSL study visuality from the perspective of social sciences and the humanities in collaboration with their colleagues who specialise in natural sciences and engineering.  

The research projects carried out within the Visual Studies Lab are peer-reviewed projects funded by the Academy of Finland and the European Research Council (ERC). The projects headed by Professors Asko Lehmuskallio, Eeva Luhtakallio and Janne Seppänen explore topics ranging from the so-called digital face, the normalisation of surveillance technologies, post-digital epistemologies of the photographic image and the visual participation of European youth.   

“The importance of studying visual cultures becomes evident when we question whether we can trust photographs or when we wonder how image professionals decide what type of cameras to develop, what kind of displays we need or how pictorial content is shared. How can we use images for argumentative purposes? How do youth in particular use images as part of their political participation? And who are the societal stakeholders who prefer to remain invisible in our society due to their vulnerability?” Asko Lehmuskallio says.

“The projects conducted within the Visual Studies Lab address these and many other questions and most often take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of images and visuality,” continues Janne Seppänen.

We often encounter images and visuality within the spheres of social sciences, the humanities and the fields of engineering.

“In fact, images are an excellent way to stimulate multidisciplinary discussion. When we examine the problematic nature of pictorial content, we consider questions drawn from areas such as digital technologies, social meanings and art and aesthetics,” say Lehmuskallio and Seppänen.

The professors who lead projects carried out at VSL enjoy international recognition in their areas of expertise, namely sociology, communication sciences and visual culture. Janne Seppänen is a well-known scholar who specialises in the study of visual cultures and has headed multiple research consortia in his field. Eeva Luhtakallio is an internationally acclaimed researcher in the field of political sociology. When she takes up her appointment as Professor of Sociology at the University of Helsinki in early 2020, the activities of VSL will be expanded to include interuniversity collaboration. Asko Lehmuskallio serves as Chair of ECREA TWG Visual Cultures and as Rudolf Arnheim Guest Professor in the Department of Art and Visual History at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Inquiries:
Asko Lehmuskallio, Tampere University, tel. +358 50 318 7013, asko.lehmuskallio@tuni.fi
Janne Seppänen, Tampere University, tel. +358 40 737 7320, janne.seppanen@tuni.fi  
Eeva Luhtakallio, Tampere University, tel. +358 40 503 1573, eeva.luhtakallio@tuni.fi

Photo: Unsplash