In Tactical Visual Culture, the Visual Methodologies Collective engaged in a critical investigative project of the potentialities of contemporary visual culture and its tactical affordances. The project was conducted together with the Institute of Network Cultures. Within two main themes –emotive images and data feminism– the Collective gathered artists, journalists and designers with whom we developed an educational toolkit on emotive images, a workshop on interfacing colonial histories of Amsterdam and a podcast on the principles of Data Feminism as proffered by Lauren Klein and Catherine d’Ignazio.

What started as criticism of the unwillingness of Facebook to implement a dislike button, has grown into a realization of the larger emotional, cultural, and financial value of the emoji. But what kind of society do emoji normalize through their standardization? The educational toolkit, part of the larger emotive images theme, showcases practical video clips on how to use emojis for research and storytelling, outlining methods that ‘unstandardize’ emojis through contextualizing them. This was done using visual content that was networked or responded to through emoji buttons such as Reactions on Facebook. There is a critical talk on the politics of Unicode by Lilian Stolk of The Hmm who goes into the power imbalances of Unicode and how such emoji politics create, in the words of Laura Marks, a kind of lame infinity and conservative view of society (Stark & Crawford, 2015).

James Bryan Graves of Hackers and Designers provided a talk on the uses of emojicode which was developed in order to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers in order to arrive at more inclusive coding practices. We also conducted a workshop on Interfacing Amsterdam’s Colonial Histories in which participants learned how to turn physical and digital access points and interfaces into tactical tools to highlight the city’s problematic past.

More information about Tactical Visual Culture can be found on the Institute of Network Cultures website.