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The project

Our project illustration

We live in times of Visual uncertainty. Fake-images, misinformation and visual manipulation seem to be everywhere. One may be inclined to state that in times of post-truth people do not trust images anymore. But things are much more complex.

Think on your day-to day life: we trust some images and not others, sometimes we hesitate. Sometimes visual deception makes us smile, sometimes it makes us angry. But how do these processes work? What are their consequences in relational and political terms? We do not know.

Visual trust is a project that seeks to fill this void through experimental, empirical and comparative research based on audio-visual research techniques.

We live in times of Visual uncertainty


Our purpose

To carry out this project, we will investigate the relationships of (mis)trust different individuals establish with three different types of images: “social images”, “religious images” and “scientific images”. We will also seek for the intersection between the attitudes, conceptualizations and practices associated to these images. What is a Faker image in religion? Why we “believe” in scientific images? How we recognized “forgery” in digital images? These are some of the questions to be explored.

Social images photo
Social images

This task is devoted to the analysis of images (and especially photographs) aimed at “representing” or “showing” the current political and social situation of the contemporary world. It will include images made by photojournalists, documentary filmmaker and artists. It will also consider the presence of “fake” images on Internet and on the Social networks, by tracking their “lives”, meanings and modes of reception.

Religious images photo
Religious images

This section will be developed in two fields where religious images play a primordial role: on the one hand, in the Caribbean, in the context of “Afro-American” religions and, on the other hand, in India within the framework of Hinduism and other religious practices. The presence of religious images on the web and in migratory processes will be also taken into account.

Scientific Images photo
Scientific Images

This task will be divided into two types of images: images of outer space and images of the human body. A researcher will carry out fieldwork in astronomical image laboratories and the other one in laboratories producing visual material for medical diagnosis through image. We will also take into account the areas where these images are circulated and intensified (hospitals, educational centres, science museums, specialized journals, among others).


The research team of this project is composed by the Principal Investigator (PI), 2 Phd researchers and 3 Postdoctoral researchers. 

Roger Canals Vilageliu

PI of the project and responsible of Task 2.1 (Religious Image, Afro-American Cults in Puerto Rico, Europe and on the Internet)

More info

Roger Canals works as an associate professor at the University of Barcelona. He is the author of many articles as well as of the book A Goddess in Motion (Berghahn Books, 2017). As a filmmaker, he has made numerous internationally-recognised films in the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. He has been the curator of several exhibitions. In 2016, he received the Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ethnographic Film (Wenner-Gren Foundation).


The methodology of this project

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The methodology of this project is designed not only to gain a better understanding of how people interact with images and through them in terms of (dis)trust but also to explore new scientific research methods as well as modes of writing and dissemination of knowledge in social sciences. Thus, we want to explore how, as social scientists, we can make images that are “trustworthy” for the scientific community and for the general public —or even how we can “use” falsity for scientific purposes. We will actively use audiovisual devices and experimental techniques such as photo-elicitation, participatory cinema and the use of archive. It will also experiment with fiction, artificial intelligence (IA) and animation.


International project

The ethnographic research of this project will mainly be carried out in Europe (especially Spain), India and Puerto Rico. Specific agreements have been signed with institutions of these non-European countries. An important part of the research and of the academic activities will be conducted on-line.

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A long-term research

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Visual Trust is a 5 years project which will last from 2021 until 2026. This period should permit us to make and intensive fieldwork and to prepare the plurality of outcome foreseen (films, books, articles, and exhibitions).

Ethics and Transparency

Good practices

Ethics and Transparency illustration

Visual Trust is not only a project about ethics, but it is also a project that put ethics and good practices in relation to research with visual means at the heart of its objectives. It is for the reason that a set of protocols and documents to safeguard the right of participants have been designed. In addition, Dr. Catarina Alves Costa is the project's ethics advisor and will guide us throughout the development of the project to comply with good ethical practices. At the end of the project, a guide to the using of audiovisual methods in social research will be elaborated.

Information Sheet photo
Information Sheet

This form gives you information to help you decide if you want to participate in a research study on Visual Trust. 

Informed Consent Form photo
Informed Consent Form

Informed consent is an ethical principle according to which a participant must have sufficient information before making his or her own free decisions about participation in the project. 

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General Script for Oral Consent

This document will be read aloud in the language the informant understands.