Looking Glass Seminar Series - Fall 2020

During the Fall semester 2020, the Media Communications department of Webster Geneva Campus has organized two episodes of ‘The Looking Glass.’ These series of webinars were started after the initiative of Francesco Arese Visconti, Head of the department, in April 2020 and aim to discuss the most current issues of contemporary society with experts. 

On September 30th, Francesco Arese Visconti invited Brad Wiggings, associate professor and department head of Media Communications at Webster Vienna Private University. Wiggings’ research interests include digital culture, new media, and strategic communication. During his presentation, entitled ‘Trumpian rhetoric, alt-health, Boogaloo and conspiratorial thinking during COVID-19,’ Dr. Wiggings discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic uniquely represents an unprecedented health crisis that has permeated all aspects of human society. Given the technological affordances of social media to disseminate fact-based and fake news, Brad Wiggings explored the serious and strategic messaging associated with conspiratorial thinking that appears to characterize seemingly disparate groups such as boogaloo and QAnon as well as the anti-vaxxer movement. With the problematic politicization of COVID-19, healthy skepticism, Wiggings argued, is replaced with conspiracy absent of theory. 

The episode of November 25th tackled the issue of selfies and society. The title of the live stream was 'Selfie Sapiens: the re-newed experience of being immortal?'. 

The event was organized as an online panel discussion on selfies, addiction and contemporary 'online' society and representation of the self. The panel involved experimental psychology researcher, Wendy Ross,  fine art photographer, Athena Carey, and photo curator and editor, Arianna Rinaldo.  

Wendy Ross talked about the bidirectional relationship between our psychological status and the technology that surrounds us and how that technology moulds our sense of self. She discussed some deep entanglements before reflecting on the positive and negative aspects of the democratization of photography. 

In her presentation, Athena Carey discussed the similarities and differences between selfies and self-portraits, how and why she ended up making self-portraits at various stages of her career. 

Finally, Arianna Rinaldo offered some examples of self-portrait photographic works among contemporary professional photographers inline or diverting from the traditional history of portrait photography. In her talk, Arianna highlighted elements of conversation or contradiction with the dynamics of the social media selfie nowadays. 

‘Trumpian rhetoric, alt-health, Boogaloo and conspiratorial thinking during COVID-19:’ 

'Selfie Sapiens: the re-newed experience of being immortal?:’