October 19 & 21, 2011
Law has entered the visual digital age. How truth and justice are represented and assessed in court (and out) increasingly depend on what electronic screens display.
Decision makers these days watch documentaries of tort victims living damaged lives in the wake of accidents that may be digitally re-enacted at trial. Police surveillance and private security cameras show drug deals, robberies, and all manner of wrongdoing. Amateur videos, perhaps fortuitously shot from a handy cell phone, capture police misconduct that may contradict an officer’s written report. Trial summations incorporate visual evidence and multi-media montages that spur unconscious visual associations charged with powerful, judgment-shaping emotions.
Clearly, law’s shift to the visual is not simply a matter of surface rhetoric or style. At stake is a paradigm change in the way legal meanings are constructed, disseminated, and construed.
Visual literacy thus becomes not only an essential skill for lawyers and decision makers alike, but also an invaluable safeguard in the pursuit of fact-based justice.
This conference set out to explore new approaches to legal scholarship and legal practice that illuminate and seek to work through the vicissitudes of visualizing law in the digital age.
Selected papers presented at the conference have been published in the New York Law School Law Review. To view articles from this issue, click here.