ICA Pre-conference 2022

Visualizing What’s Social: Research and Methodological Approaches

May 26, 2022 | 12:30-17:00 | Palais des Congrés: Rooms 311 & 312 + online via Zoom

Pre-Conference information

Division Affiliation:  Visual Communication Studies Division, Popular Media and Culture Division, and Computational Methods Division.


Dr. Mary A. Bock, University of Texas-Austin.

Email: mary.bock@austin.utexas.edu 

Twitter: @ProfessorBock

ICA Affiliation: Visual Communication Studies Division

Dr. Allison Kwesell, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Email: alli_kwes@yahoo.com

Web: allisonannekwesell.com

ICA Affiliation: Visual Communication Studies Division

Dr. Yupei Zhao, Zhejiang University.

Email: yvonnechiu@qq.com

Web: person.zju.edu.cn/en/yupeizhao

ICA Affiliation: Popular Media and Culture Division

Dr. Annie Waldherr, University of Vienna.

Email: annie.waldherr@univie.ac.at

Twitter: @annie_waldherr

ICA Affiliation: Computational Methods Division


Social media are visual media. Every day, users upload billions of photos and hundreds of thousands of hours of video to the internet, and media producers are encouraged to use still and moving images to attract viewers (Evelith, 2015). Images document the lives of ordinary people, celebrities and pets. They are also used to inform, persuade and deceive. Exploring the role of the visual online and in pop culture is essential to understanding the nature of social media. 

Yet images are often harder to research than text. They pose methodological challenges in terms of data collection and analysis, and are therefore left out of many analyses of social media. Considering that images are cognitively and emotionally more powerful than words alone, this is problematic. 

This Pre-Conference is designed to maximize dialogue about researching visuality in social media among scholars at all career levels, including students, early-career, mid-career and senior scholars. Students and early-career scholars will have the opportunity to present research and works-in-progress for feedback from mid-career and senior scholars. A session is planned for mid-career and senior scholars to present their research. The event will conclude with a methods workshop focusing on techniques and strategies for researching visuality in social media.To that end, we invite extended abstracts of no more than 2,500 words pertaining to, but not limited to, the following topics:

Celebrity: How is celebrity represented and visually constructed on social media? In contrast, how are the quotidian and banal aspects of life represented and visually constructed in such contexts? 

Technology: How has the ubiquity of higher-quality cameras and editing software/apps changed the way non-professional users are able to brand themselves or construct themselves as “celebrities” or influencers? Which techniques of visual production are used in social media? Which techniques are tied to old media, and which might represent new forms of visual communication?

Methods: What methods, technologies, and tools are being developed that can assist researchers in the study of images and video on social media? How might researchers adapt existing systems for social media analysis? What sort of automated or big data analyses might best be employed by visual researchers? Where might those analyses be limited compared to small data projects? What challenges do visuals pose for social media researchers, and how might they be overcome? 

Optics: What differences exist between video and still imagery online and in social media? What about graphic design, such as animated GIFs? Are there differences in the way the forms are deployed online? How are optical, audio and editing techniques employed in social media?

Semiotics: What sorts of signs predominate on social media? How are they understood, used, or constructed by users? How have signs evolved?

Narrative: How do developments of ephemeral “story” sharing, live-streaming and other similar social media features change the nature of storytelling and representation online? What stories emerge from the mixing and matching shared audio tracks with video and imagery?


12:30 – 13:00: Check-in, setup and A/V check

13:00 – 14:15: Poster & Mentoring Session

Online Posters

Xie Fengshu, Nanyang Technological University 
Project title: Mentalization in Visual Communication: Message effectiveness of BoPo Images
Rachel Berryman (@channelera), Curtin University 
Project title: Analysing Virtual Influencers: Celebrity, Authenticity, and Identity on Social Media
Kayli Plotner (@kayplot), University of Colorado Boulder 
Project title: From caption to clicks: A content analysis of Instagram captions’ relationship to website traffic in combination with social media analytics’ impact on newsroom decision making
Zhiwei Wang, University of Edinburgh
Project title: Being Chinese Online: Discursive (Re) production of Internet-Mediated Chinese National Identity

Physical (in-person) Posters

Christopher T. Assaf (@ctassaf ), U of Texas-Austin 
Project title: Presidential Political Visuals: Comparing Trump and Biden Persuasiveness on Instagram
Luise Salte (@LuiseSalte), University of Stavanger 
Project title: Sampling multimodal representation and discourse in algorithmic circumstances: Tik Tok and marginalized communities
Liron Simatzkin-Ohana, The Hebrew U of Jerusalem 
Project title: When Vernacular Style becomes a Corporate Strategy: Who is the ‘Self ‘ in Stock- photography Selfies?

Poster Session Mentors
  • Dr Annie Waldherr (@annie_waldherr), U of Vienna, Computational Methods Division
  • Dr Stephanie Geise, @geise_stephanie, Universität Bremen VCSD & CM Divisions
  • Dr Melissa Aronczyk (@M_Aronczyk), Rutgers University, Popular Media & Culture Division
  • Dr Tim Highfield (@timhighfield), University of Sheffield Visual Communication Studies Division
  • Dr Mary Bock (@ProfessorBock), The U of Texas at Austin Visual Communication Studies Division

14:15 – 15:30: Formal Research Presentations

Chair: Dr Allison Kwesell, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical U


Dr Lawrence Mullen (@ProfessorMoonie), U of Nevada, Las Vegas (joining virtually)
Presentation title: 
Live Video Chat with Kik: Multimodal Anthropology, Participant Observation, and Ethical Issues
Dr Jill Fredenburg (@jillfredenburg), U of Memphis (joining virtually)
Presentation title: 
More Than Pretty Flowers: An Articulation of “Cottagecore”
Dr Ashley George, Samford University
Presentation title: Prince and Princess of Mental Health: An evaluation of visual representation of the “Heads Together” Campaign created by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

15:30 – 15:45: Coffee Break

15:45 – 17:00: Methods and Technology Workshop

Moderator: Dr Annie Waldherr, University of Vienna


Dr Luca Rossi (@Luca_Rossi_LR), IT U Copenhagen 
Project title: Doing social media research through computer vision: Technology, epistemology, and humans
Liu Zewei, Communication University of China (joining virtually)
Project title: 
News Visualization and User Emotions: The Impact of Vlog News in CCTV on User Emotions from the Perspective of Emotional Turn
Tom Divon (@TomDivon), The Hebrew U of Jerusalem 
Project title: Playful Activism: Memetic Performances of Palestinian Resistance in TikTok Challenges
Ashley Carter (@ashleywcarter) & Melissa Pickett (@ MPickettMktg), The University of Colorado-Boulder
Project title: Online Brand Personalities: Vanity Trumps Expertise in Social Media Influencer Marketing


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