Indifferent Looks: Visual Inattention and the Composition of Strangers

Paul Frosh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The majority of visual images circulating in contemporary media-saturated societies are experienced, it is probably safe to say, as fleeting and unremarkable ephemera. Visual inattention will be explored as a category of social-material practice. The iconic similarity attributed inattentively to photographs as a routinely encountered visual environment complements the same-world disclosure that emerges, paradoxically, from their indexical nature. Television introduces a socially novel form of visual connectivity: nonreciprocal face-to-face communication. Audiovisual media technologies create non-reciprocal non-encounters between viewers and viewed and are perceived to insulate the viewer from ethical responsibility to those represented on the screen. The culture of media and image-saturation has become, ultimately, second nature to the extent that humanity has become auto-totemic. The composite-image produced by inattentive viewing, image-mobility and media-ubiquity is, like the totem, animated. The composite image itself is both indexical and emblematic, singular and general, someone and anyone, change and repetition, concrete particular and abstract universal.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationVisuality/Materiality
Subtitle of host publicationImages, Objects and Practices
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781317001126
ISBN (Print)9781409412229
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012 Gillian rose and Divya P. tolia-Kelly.


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