Judicial Images
Production, Management and Consumption

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What is the goal of the project?

The goal of the Judicial Images project is to examine the relationship between the justice system and visual media. The production, management and consumption of visual images of courts and judges are its particular focus.

The Judicial Images project provides new opportunities to examine current concepts of justice and gain insights into under researched and neglected aspects of debates about the legitimacy of law and confidence in the institutions of justice.

Why focus on images of the judiciary?

The judge epitomizes key values and virtues of the justice system: impartiality, rule based justice and legitimate authority. Judicial image making and image management is a fundamental aspect of judicial practice and the interface between the judiciary and mass media is an important aprt of our visual culture as a result. We seek to explore how official and unofficial images of the judiciary are created, managed and consumed.

Why does this project matter? The topic is complex and underexplored. Visual images of named or identifiable English judges have a long history, beginning in the 14th century. The range of visual representations is diverse, probably beginning with effigies and other funeral monuments. It includes paintings, etchings, photographs and most recently images on screen available in the comfort of the home 24/7. Judicial image making also draws upon many other visual arts and objects. The design of courts is crucial, providing the stage and backdrop. Costume and a range of props also play a key role.

This is a very timely initiative. A host of current developments are radically affecting the creation, management and consumption of judicial images. Multichannel TV schedules suggest the production of, and interest in, domestic and imported courtroom drama is inexhaustible. Real trial footage from overseas has added new factual representations of courts. New products such as reality court TV, new technologies such as mobile phone and internet platforms  have also created the potential for DIY television production and ‘citizen journalists’. Court design guides and new building projects also provide opportunities to build new visions of judicial authority into the landscape of our towns and cities.

Consumption of mass media images creates new levels of legal ‘knowledge’, as well as new confusions and expectations. Concerns about outdated laws on cameras in courts, the incorporation of cameras into trial and television’s role in undermining and raising confidence in courts are all the subject of intense debate.  The time is ripe for a new critical engagement with the nature of visual images, their management,  and their capacity to enhance ‘openness’, achieve greater ‘transparency’ or promote ‘accountability’.

Key practical benefits of this project will include raising popular and professional awareness of the nature and significance of visual imagery in the communication of ideas about justice and its institutions. It will also contribute to citizen awareness and citizen education. Finally the project seeks to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of public communications relating to the judiciary and contribute to practical initiatives to sustain and improve confidence in the judiciary.

Who can get involved?

Everyone! Our workshops will bring together invited artists, judges, film makers, legal professionsla and academics in a wide range of the culture industries, judges and legal professionals together with leading and early career academics from a wide variety of different disciplines.  In doing so we hope to establish an international network of people working in the field.

But you can also get involved by:

Contacting us on information@judicialimages.org

Sending an image to our Instagram profile, using the hashtag #judicialimages

Tweeting a comment to us at @JudicialImages.

Will there be any events?

Three workshops organised around the themes of production, management and consumption will bring together legal practitioners, artists, filmmakers and academics. By opening up debate through these events, a public lecture, virtual exhbition and social media our goal is also to reach out to engage the wider community. There will also be a public lecture. Read more about our events.