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GVIR-COVID 2021 : CFP: The Visual Culture of the Virus


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Where N/A
Abstract Registration Due Feb 2, 2022
Submission Deadline Jan 4, 2021
Notification Due Jan 3, 2021
Final Version Due Jan 5, 2021
Categories    visual   culture   media   science

Call For Papers

Visual Resources Journal

Call for Papers:
The Visual Culture of a Virus
A Special Issue on the visual representation of covid-19

Covid-19 has become part of our everyday life and there is no escape from acknowledging the depth and significance of this crisis. Its transformation from a regional, specific problem, into a global issue exposes social, political, financial and ideological ruptures. As the crisis progresses, it deepens already existing polarities and divisions, and possibly, creates new ones.

Moreover, Covid-19, is the first global crisis to be thought of, informed by and managed through a web 2.0 logic. In this context, social networks and other digital media platforms have become paramount in the process of informing and instructing ways of behaving with the virus, and as a means of surviving it, both in the physical, but also on the social and spiritual level. Concepts such as social distancing, isolation, quarantine, travel corridors, and the mental images they create, have become an inherent part of our casual conversations. Furthermore, cultural, educational, national and interpersonal interactions, had become dependent on digital platforms, and we manage ourselves and our entire lives from one screen to another.

Our social behaviour and feelings, instructed by media outlets and digital giants, are practicing new forms of global communication, based on the visual representation of a virus that has a significant role in reinforcing statutory control through processes of shared animosity and solidarity. The visual representation of the virus, here, stands not only for the representation of the virus itself, in its various illustrations, but also stand for the effects and affects it has on every aspect of life: from the most intimate penetration in to the domestic domain of the other, all the way to penguins set loose in empty museum halls , and dolphins, apparently, swimming in the canals of Venice .

The image of the virus, in this sense, had become a complex set of political and social negotiations, via platforms such as interactive maps, live-updates, numerical representations and graphs, but also, in the representation, or lack of thereof, of suffering, pain, disease, death, grief, solidarity and inevitably – identity – national and other.

Covid-19, the physical virus, had become the medium for the growth of a culture, that itself, relies on ‘the viral’ as a mode of production and dissemination of knowledge. Images as they circulate through digital media are stripped and dressed in and out of context, to create little bubbles of reality, that adorn our private spaces. The extent that the meaning of the image itself, becomes a convoluted landscape of possibilities.

Within this logic, other, alternative narratives, also gain momentum, to the extent of an unprecedented call for censorship on the digital space and an attack on its allowances. Images, and their super-positioning expose ruptures in trust. Trust here, is not only of a political agenda, but is raised in relation to the medium itself. The image becomes a double-edged sword.

Curiously, as images re-surface and are re-interpreted on various platforms and in different contexts – and while their meaning is bended to serve different ideologies and political agendas - the authority and truth claim of the image still remains.

Thinking about 'the visual' as a culture for virality, this issue would like to explore aspects of this pandemic, and the power relations that images are complicating in such times of crisis. As we are writing this Call for Papers, we find ourselves entering into the third lockdown in the UK, while global politics are in turmoil from the occupation public spaces globally with a powerful demonstration of conflict of power. Within this context, this topic seems to have become ever more pertinent.


We are interested in articles that reflect on this present moment, in relation to the role and power of images as a conductor for viral spread.

We are interested in articles that take into account the complexities around the meaning of images and their use within digital platforms.

We are interested in articles that stem from a multi or interdisciplinary perspective, that offer a critical engagement with this topic.

We are interested in articles that extend contemporary theories around iconography and iconology, facing the interplay between politics and images, as they are used during crisis.

We are also interested in papers that could enlighten our understanding of pandemics from a cultural-historical perspective. Historical and comparative studies, based on visual case studies are welcome.

We acknowledge that we are in the midst of a developing crisis and that our ability to gain a clear perspective on such matters is limited. We therefore welcome theoretical, experimental and speculative writing

Articles submitted can include any of the following topics or a relationship between them:

• Cultural / visual virology
• Viral media / Viral images
• Analysis of Visual Representations of Covid-19
• Historical and / or comparative research into the visual representations of virality / viruses / pandemics
• Images of cleanliness, images of dirt: digital dirt; digital infection
• The aesthetics of epidemics / pandemics cultural-visual memory
• Virology and repetition: images re-used, re-circulated and re-contextualised in times of health crisis: from the use of recurring images in media and news outlets, to fake news
• Virology and conspiracy - what are the aesthetics of spreading tumors in the digital age
• Historical / comparative research into the representation and analysis of quarantine and isolation systems and their appearance
• Images and performances of isolation; Images and performances of quarantine

Abstract of 300-400 words to be sent to:

Dr Lee Weinberg
Dr Phaedra Shanbaum

Submission Deadline for abstracts EXTENDED: 14th February, 2021, 23.55 GMT
If your proposal is received after the above deadline, it may be considered for future issues.

Abstracts accepted will be notified, and authors will be required to submit their full article (4500-6000 words) by March 1st, 2021; articles will go through a double blinded peer review process before accepted for final publication on the June issue due June 1st 2021.

Full paper submissions should be submitted through Editorial Manager as per the Instructions for Authors:

Papers should adhere to the IFAs.

Visual Resources is dedicated to the study of images and their use, within art, material culture, architectural history and cultural studies. Its aim is to provide readers with a critical theoretical framework for understanding images and visual information in contemporary society. The journal is published 4 times a year, and includes both a rolling publishing scheme online and a printed version.

Main themes include: visual aesthetics; visual language; art history; digital art; iconography and oncology; museum and archive studies and curating.

For more information on Visual Resources, please visit:

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