Visual Interrogations

Complementing its direct empirical research with perpetrators of violence, VIPRE is also carrying out extensive analysis of user-generated images from conflict zones. This most prominently includes the collection and ethnomethodological analysis of videos produced by perpetrators of war crimes (torture, mutilation, summary executions, etc.), depicting their own actions, and which have been released to a variety of online platforms for different reasons. Visual material of this kind is distinct from the spectacular and aestheticized videos produced by organizations like ISIS or the US military, which have until now been at the centre of most visual analysis. The images analyzed by VIPRE lack spectacular components and are instead the closest kinds of images we possess to the granular enaction of war crimes ‘as they really happened’ in different settings. VIPRE applies a variety of quantitative and qualitative tools of analysis to explore these videos, focused most prominently on drawing out the material, technological, affective, and aesthetic drivers of the abuse depicted by drawing on concepts and tools from within micro-sociology, ethnomethodology, science and technology studies, and related fields. Core to VIPRE’s work in this area has also been the construction of a dataset – the Violence in Action Dataset (VIAD) – which is comprised of these materials.