Introduction: Listening to Images: An Exercise in Counterintuition
Listening to Images designates a method of recalibrating vernacular photographs as quiet practices that give us access to affective registers through which images enunciate alternate accounts of their subjects. Focusing on forms of refusal visualized through images, the book uses the frameworks of quiet, stasis, and refusal to reclaim the black quotidian as a signature idiom of diasporic culture and black futurity. The foundational counterintuition that serves as its primary point of departure is a contention that quiet must not be conflated with silence. Quiet registers sonically, as a level of intensity that requires focused attention. Analogously, quiet photography names a heuristic for attending to the lower range of intensities generated by images assumed to be mute. The choice to “listen to” rather than simply “look at” images is a conscious decision to challenge the equation of vision with knowledge by engaging photography through a sensory register that is critical to Black Atlantic cultural formations: sound.