Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Chair/Advisor

Vitanza, Victor J

Committee Member

Haynes , Cynthia

Committee Member

Hung , Christina

Committee Member

Love , Jeff


Camera Creatures addresses the new media landscape in which cameras, in most situations, outnumber pens. The dissertation argues that despite the accessibility and power of imagemaking devices, there persists in the humanities and social sciences a hesitation to engage the possibilities for composing with optical media. A number of factors contributing to this trend are addressed, including the preference for image analysis over imagemaking practices, persistent assumptions of the camera's mechanical objectivity, and a tendency to teach visual invention as collage. As a counter-measure, a proposal is made for investment in the mediation of light, or 'photonic rhetorics.' To explore these effects in visual communication and the possibility of bringing them into practice, three emerging camera technologies are examined. The first, the photo app, focuses on the controversy surrounding embedded journalists who use social networks and the Hipstamatic camera phone application to relay stories of U.S. Marines deployed in Afghanistan. The chapter argues that the filters and shooting styles of these mobile apps encourage fluencies in the persuasive effects of light. The second camera technology, the video clip, addresses the long take as the predominant technique of everyday video-making. Film theory, video sharing trends, and circadian science contribute to a discussion of the rhythms of long-take shooting and its capability to expose both visual habits and the contingencies capable of disrupting them. The third site turns to video game 'shooters' and the virtual camera's construction of 'surrogate vision,' which the author argues is a critical tool for understanding the future of mediated interactivity in both physical and digital landscapes. The dissertation concludes with a pedagogical section devoted to conscientious cheating. Alongside theories of deliberate practice, 'cheating' is repurposed for education, offering new ways of testing the 'rules' of optical composition while discovering opportunities to intervene in light's constant mediation of perception.



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