Introduction: Of Shine, Bling, and Bixels
The introduction examines contemporary cultural formation in the African diaspora. It argues that through the transnational circulation of photographic technologies, African diasporic urban communities learn to see and assign value to the spectacle of being seen and photographed. These photographic expressions constitute immaterial forms of representation in which the mechanics of being seen—the camera, lights, the screen, the pose, the afterimage—have become their own forms of memory, representation, and social status. They are examples of other ontologies of photography. In the instance of skin bleaching for video light, which affects how flesh absorbs and reflects light, the body becomes a new type of photographic surface. These expressions, which produce a blinding bright white light, invest in and eschew investments in being socially visible that dominate in their respective postcolonial communities. They can lead to new forms of political and civic belonging across African diasporic communities.