The Image As Storytelling

An improvised answer from officer Schabowski led a 1989 press conference to accidentally trigger the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Since the 1960 televised Presidential debate between Nixon and Kennedy, the media has steadily marched towards an inescapable centrality within politics.  However, it is only with the 1991 Gulf War that – among many socio-political changes – a communicative milestone was truly established.

As new-borns in the Middle East were being named ‘CNN,’ and the French philosopher Baudrillard argued that The Gulf War did not take place, (visual) media had, to an unparalleled degree, become the imperative requisite of politics.  It now infuses our daily lives and touches us in ways as diverse and unexpected as ‘alternative facts.’

Through online platforms, social change and political events have recently been witnessed, disseminated and discussed in increasingly more participatory ways.  In parallel, digital media has played an arguably pivotal role in the last three US Presidential Elections and in the 2016 Brexit referendum.  Rumours over Russian media agencies swaying recent political consultations are currently under very close scrutiny.

For the last 25 years, I have been analysing how contemporary visual imageries are created, disseminated and eventually ‘validated.’  Crucially, I have myself been producing a few of those imageries as a photo-journalist and multimedia producer, working from Morocco to China and most places in between.

This research statement presents how I engage with current affairs through media forms and communicative formats.  My final aim is to build a hands-on theoretically refined perspective to practice, appreciate and understand current digital communication.

Building on its pivot – the Meta-Image – I craft The Image As Storytelling as my dynamic over-reaching framework to understand, engage and produce visual communication.

By combining my expertise in the creative industries with my academic research, I advance the analysis and production of visual storytelling in multimedia journalism, to revive the tradition of photo-reportage and open-ended narratives at a time when the role of photography is unprecedentedly challenged.

The Image As Storytelling is thus derived upon the assessment of the new role of design to pragmatically ‘augment’ visual communication.

Arguably, design is a notion of multiple meanings and applications.  For the present context, design is assessed as both ‘composition’ and ‘aesthetics:’ the former indicates lines, shapes and volumes inside the image, while the latter points to the visualisation strategies of the image’s data.

As such, design shapes each and every stage in digital production, from pre- to post-production, from montage to media distribution policies.  However, designed images are also at the centre of the highly controversial relation that juxtaposes the ‘recorded real’ with its ‘communicated representation/s.’

To exemplify the extent to which digital media has epistemologically disrupted the semiotic practice of photography, it should be acknowledged how camera settings (for instance: colour spaces) design the recording of the real well before it being not only shot, but possibly even ‘seen’. This is by no means a completely new dynamic (choosing a colour or B&W film had the very same effect), but today’s designed visual communication has indeed a much further reach and thorough impact.

This is the reason why I approach design not as that ‘which re-signifies the real,’ but – instead – as a tool to understand visual journalism and produce multimedia storytelling.

Hence, whether to take or make a photograph is not a small issue of semantics, but the way that visual media and today’s digital storytelling communicate.

 

Above the official launch of my project.

 

On May, the 9th, 2017, professor David Moore organised a one-day event on the Future Of Photography at the University of Westminster, London, UK.

The event marked the official launch of my research on The Image As Storytelling in front of students, online interested parties and most prestigious panelists, including award-winning photographer Simon Roberts, Clare Grafik, senior editor at the London-based Photographers’ Gallery, and Anne Bourgeois-Vignon, global digital director at Magnum Photos.

Continue on the Meta-Image to discover more about the mobile App I’m building as pivot to the above framework or the section on Research.

In the meantime, would you like to know more about my professional training?