Decoding the Gaze: Iconography and the Algorithm

29 Nov 2019

Regular hours

11:00 – 19:00

Cost of entry

£15/£10 members & concessions

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The Photographers' Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Just off Oxford Street so accessible by bus services to Oxford Street and a 2 minute walk from Oxford Circus Tube Station.
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Explore the role of images in shaping how social justice movements are represented in today’s post-social media landscape in this one-day symposium


Images are crucial in revealing social injustice. Shared instantly online across a range of digital platforms, single photographed moments have the potential to define and empower the social justice movements they represent. But how does corporate interest influence the circulation of viral imagery on the channels it controls? What is the relationship between user participation and algorithmic distribution? And to what extent do these algorithms, predicated on historical systems of oppression and inequality, reinforce prejudices and stymie a genuine democratisation of image making?

Join this symposium for a deeper inquiry into how the political efficacy of social justice movements is impacted by their visualisation in virtual space. Through a series of talks, presentations and debates, we will look at the ways in which these movements have been helped and hindered by the rapid flow of iconic imagery on social media. 

Contributors include Omar Al-Ghazzi (Department of Media and Communications, LSE), Clare Farrell (Extinction Rebellion), Alexander Fefegha (Comuzi), artist Mariam GhaniShahla Ghobadi (University of Leeds), Gholam Khiabany (Media, Communications and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths), Jorge Saavedra Utman (Department of Sociology, Cambridge), Funda Üstek-Spilda (Department of Media and Communications, LSE), and artist and activist Sampson Wong.

What to expect? Toggle


Max Houghton

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Mariam Ghani

David Birkin

Sampson Wong

Taking part

London College of Communication

London College of Communication

London, United Kingdom


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