garduno cristina - photosharing on flickr intangible heritage and emergents publics

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Compartir fotos en Flickr como patrimonio intagible y la construcción social del mismo.

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    This article was downloaded by: [University of Technology, Sydney]On: 15 September 2010Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 907690662]Publisher RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    International Journal of Heritage StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713685629

    Photosharing on Flickr: intangible heritage and emergent publicsCristina Garduo Freemanaa School of Architecture, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

    Online publication date: 03 June 2010

    To cite this Article Garduo Freeman, Cristina(2010) 'Photosharing on Flickr: intangible heritage and emergent publics',International Journal of Heritage Studies, 16: 4, 352 368To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/13527251003775695URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13527251003775695

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    This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.

    The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.

  • International Journal of Heritage StudiesVol. 16, Nos. 45, JulySeptember 2010, 352368

    ISSN 1352-7258 print/ISSN 1470-3610 online 2010 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/13527251003775695http://www.informaworld.com

    Photosharing on Flickr: intangible heritage and emergent publics

    Cristina Garduo Freeman*

    School of Architecture, University of Technology, Sydney, AustraliaTaylor and FrancisRJHS_A_478091.sgm(Received 8 November 2008; final version received 8 January 2010)10.1080/13527251003775695International Journal of Heritage Studies1352-7258 (print)/1470-3610 (online)Original Article2010Taylor & Francis164-5000000July-September 2010CristinaGarduno Freemancristina_gf@iinet.net.au

    This paper argues that Flickr, a popular photosharing website, is facilitating newpublic engagements with world heritage sites like the Sydney Opera House.Australian heritage institutions (namely libraries and museums) have recentlybegun to employ Flickr as a site through which to engage communities with theirphotographic archives and collections. Yet Flickr is more than an online photoalbum: it is a social and cultural network generated around personal photographicpractices. Members can form groups: self-organised communities defined byshared interests in places, photographic genres, or the appraisal of photographs.These groups are public spaces for both visual and textual conversations complex social negotiations involving personal expression and collective identity.For one group, the common interest is the Sydney Opera House, and their sharedvisual and textual expressions representations of this building. This paper arguesthat such socio-visual practices themselves constitute an intangible heritage. Bydrawing on the work of scholars Jose Van Dijck and Nancy Van House, DawsonMunjeri and Michael Warner, the paper proposes that this enactment of intangibleheritage is implicated in the broader cultural value of the Sydney Opera House.

    Keywords: intangible heritage; photosharing; visual discourse; Sydney OperaHouse; Flickr

    Introduction

    If Flickr was a nation, it would have a greater population than Australia. In 2008 thewebsite reported a membership of 30 million (Shankland 2008) and a collection ofover 3 billion images (Champ 2008). Since its launch in 2004, Flickrs members haveestablished almost half a million1 public groups, some with populations as large as90,000 like the group Black and White.2 Flickr provides a way to store, organise andpublicly share photographs online. It is a searchable repository of personalphotography3 covering almost every imaginable subject. Often cited as an example ofthe Web 2.0 participatory turn (OReilly 2005), it has already generated a sizeablebody of scholarly discussion. This research uses predominantly empirical methods,perhaps because Flickrs open source platform makes metadata (data about data; liketags or user participation) readily available to researchers. This empirical researchfocuses on Flickr in several common ways: as an example of online social networking(Lerman and Jones 2007, Lerman 2007, Van Zwol 2007, Sigurbjrnsson and VanZwol 2008), as a community classification system of folksonomies (Davies 2006,Yakel 2006, Kennedy et al. 2007, Lerman et al. 2007, Rafferty and Hidderley 2007),

    *Email: cristina_gf@iinet.net.au

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  • International Journal of Heritage Studies 353

    as an example of socio-locative practices (Ames and Naaman 2007, Erickson 2007)and as an archive of digital photographs (Van House 2006, 2007, Van House andAmes 2007, Van House and Churchill 2008). However, not all research on Flickr isempirical. Two recent doctoral projects adopt a more cultural approach. JeanBurgess (2007) argues that Flickr is a space for enactments of vernacular creativityand through this, cultural citizenship. Janice Affleck (2007) investigates the opportu-nities that spaces like Flickr provide for the discursive interpretation of heritage bycommunities. This paper builds upon Burgess and Afflecks research by investigatinghow photosharing on Flickr can inform our understanding of community sentimenttowards places of cultural significance.

    The paper is structured in three parts. First it draws on the work of DawsonMunjeri and other heritage scholars to establish the important role that the intangibleplays in the cultural value we attribute to tangible heritage sites and monuments.Second, the paper explores the socio-visual interactions of the group Sydney OperaHouse to understand the way these photographic contributions operate as a visualdiscourse, which is connected to members sense of belonging and identity, and canthus be seen as an intangible heritage. This section explores the affective distinctionbetween images and text in such social interactions by building on the work ofcontemporary theorists Jose Van Dijck, Elizabeth Chaplin and Nancy Van House, toestablish personal photography as a social medium of communication. Thirdly thepaper explores how photosharing through groups gives rise to new social formations.Using Michael Warners writing on publics it traces how two apparently exclusivegroups, Sydney Opera House and Sydney-alt, emerged in turn from the visualdiscourse in a precursor group Sydney, Australia. The paper concludes that photo-sharing is a public visual discourse, a discursive practice and a performative mode ofintangible heritage around the Sydney Opera House. It argues that discussions onFlickr reveal the complex and multivalent sentiment held for this place and itssymbolic standing in for Sydney and Australia. In addition it exposes the way thesenegotiations are generative, implicated in the emergence of new publics that seek toprovide alternate spaces and ways of representing both Sydney and its Opera House,and which thus operate to co-constitute this place as meaningful in the lives of itscontemporary communities.

    The Sydney Opera House on Flickr

    The Sydney Opera House is a widely recognised symbol of Sydney and an architec-tural masterpiece of the late Modern Movement. In 2007 the building wasdistinguished as a monument of universal value for art and science and inscribedonto the UNESCO World Heritage List (Department of Environment and Heritage,and NSW Heritage Office 2006, p. 27). Designed by Jrn Utzon, the building isrenowned architecturally for its pioneering construction systems, while its distinctivesculptural roof forms give it an instantly recognisable silhouette. Since opening in1973, it has become one of Australias most popular tourist destinations, and onestudy has shown that only one in four visitors attends a performance at the OperaHouse, implying that the rest come specifically to admire the building (ibid., p. 31).Many visitors use photography to document their experiences.

    Much scholarly attention to the Sydney Opera House focuses on its historicaland architectural value, both in terms of aesthetics and technological realisation. Lessattention has been devoted to sociology to the relationship that people and

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  • 354 C. Garduo Freeman

    communities have with the building. Many groups have distinct and particular rela-tionships: for tourists it is a destination, for locals a city landmark, for architects aflawed masterpiece, for performers a status symbol and for many Australians anemblem of national and local identity. Online spaces can help to reveal the culturalimport of this place Flickr retrieves 81,0004 photographs and 875 groups in relationto the Sydney Opera House. On Flickr, World Heritage sites tend to be loci for user-created socio-visual practices: