PhD Seminar by Paul Frosh – The Screenshot: Communicative Fixity and the Cultural Memory of Photography

The screenshot is the workhorse of contemporary digital culture. Utterly ubiquitous as a method of quoting from digital media, usually within digital media, the screenshot continually escapes our attention as the focus and product of cultural practices. In this talk I will argue that the screenshot is not only among the most commonplace and overlooked of digital objects, but that it confounds prevalent theories of digital media — and digital images — as performances in perpetual flux and as ‘softimages’. Investigating the screenshot as a vehicle of communicative fixity, I will analyze it as a remediated photograph and a mode of witnessing, delineating the epistemological and ontological assumptions that accompany its ubiquity. I will then examine the screenshot as a digital spectacle, and foreground how it implicates its displayed reference worlds (such as social media interfaces and game scenarios) as spectacular and contingent. Just as the photograph implies the plenitude and mutability of physical existence beyond the image of the scene it depicts, so the screenshot implies the plenitude and mutability of a digital lifeworld beyond the image of the screen it preserves.

Professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Paul Frosh is a Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His published research spans visual culture, photography theory, the aesthetics of television and digital media, cultural production and consumer culture, cultural memory, and media witnessing. His most recent book is The Poetics of Digital Media. Paul’s current research project, funded by the Israel Science Foundation, explores how the cultural memory of photography has enabled the medium to survive and expand despite the almost complete transformation of its core technologies, and what this persistence means for societies in which it occurs. 

Join this seminar on Zoom
Meeting ID: 834 2910 4665
Passcode: 380510

  • All PolyU PhD students are welcome.
  • This seminar, hosted on Zoom Meeting, allows only authenticated users (i.e. Zoom logged-in users).
  • Event registration is required (click HERE). Registrants will receive a reading list prior to this seminar.