Taking this notion of bending and shifting waves, the inaugural issue of Refract: An Open Access Visual Studies Journal asks how refraction can be a tool for critically engaging with ways of seeing.Refraction can refer to ways in which viewpoints, epistemologies, or discourses can shift direction, so to speak. One could expand this metaphor to ask how changes in “medium” provoke different perceptions of the world. How might scholars, artists, thinkers, or makers manipulate these shifts in order to challenge hegemonic ways of knowing? To refract knowledge is to complicate discursive categories that are largely taken for granted. How can scholarly analysis, artistic projects, dialogues, and reviews refract dominant histories, geographies, cultural attitudes, among other things, and offer different possibilities for “knowing” and experiencing the world? This issue is an initial step into such an inquiry. Diverse in subject matter and methodological approach, the contributions in this issue reconsider existing narratives about the body, gender and sexuality, race, state control, the archive, trauma and memory, the built environment and space, and technologies of seeing.
Erick Msumanje and Alexis Hithe
Erick Msumanje, Alexis Hithe, and Kristen Laciste
Mark Augustine and Joseph Carr
Joshua Nash, Leslie McShane Lodwick, and Maggie Wander
Zachary Dean Norman
A. Mārata Ketekiri Tamaira