An Investigation of Syrian Conflict Photography on Flickr
The Arab Spring of 2011 saw the employment of social media, and contributed to the way in which photojournalists, citizen witnesses, and activists mediate and represent struggles and conflict in the Middle East (Allan, 2013). Looking particularly at Syria, the visual construction of the conflict is ever more present, and images of the war have become more common, as we now live in a world that is constructed more readily through imagery. Images are circulated with an unprecedented speed on global New Media outlets such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter instantaneously (Anden-Papadopoulos and Pantti, 2013). Activists and citizen journalists have worked to gain public attention to fight against the Assad regime in Syria, largely through access to social media sites. In the process, activist groups such as Lens Young Dimashqi seek to record and document the conflict through photographic images of life during wartime.
A group of 20 Syrian youths started photographing the Syrian conflict from June 2011, and they have formed as a collective group with members from across the country coming together under the one group, Lens Young, followed by the name of the city e.g. Lens Young Dimashqi (Damascus). The images photographed vary from the landscape of Syria, the destruction of homes, to shelling, bombing, casualties and death. However, all of the images are uploaded under the same rules “they will contribute to informing the world about what is happening in Syria” (http://dimashqilens.com/en).
This research will focus on a collection of images from the social media site Flickr, as well as drawing from other sites such as Google+, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to which the group post regularly, to help complicate labels such as ‘citizen witness’ and ‘photojournalist’. Furthermore, images are recorded on mobile phones, tablets, as well as DSLR cameras, and provide an alternative to traditional forms of news reporting. It will also allow a greater understanding of how groups such as Lens Young Dimashqi problematize labels such as ‘activist’ and ‘citizen’ to find a voice through social media, whilst also complicating widely held distinctions between ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ photography in New Media.