An improvised answer from officer Schabowski led a 1989 press conference to most accidentally trigger the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Since the 1960 televised Presidential debate between Nixon and Kennedy, media steadily marched into an inescapable centrality in 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 would be named 'CNN,' and a French philosopher argue that The Gulf War did not take place, (visual) media have been promoted to the imperative requisite for politics, as they now infuse our daily lives and most important affects in declinations as diverse and unexpected as today's 'alternative facts.'
Through online platforms, social changes and political events have recently been witnessed, disseminated and discussed in increasingly more participatory ways. In parallel, digital media have been playing a capitol role in the last three US Presidential Elections, and, arguably so, in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Rumours over Russian media agencies swaying recent political consultations are 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 almost everywhere from Morocco to China.
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.
HH Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, Sheikh of the Emirate of Sharjah.
Opening of my exhibition Behind An Hawza - In Front An Image.
Durham (UK), April 2012.
Bridging the capital research produced at the University of Chicago with the crucial contribution of practitioners from the media and creative industries, I used my PhD at the University of Exeter (UK) to finalise my tool of the Meta-Image and its over-reaching research framework The Image As Storytelling.
With them, I aim to: 1- investigate how media forms (i.e. the digital photograph) reshape communicative formats (i.e. visual and multimedia storytelling); and 2- provide audiences with the competencies and practical skills to best assess and produce visual communication.
More in detail, the Meta-Image consists of a number of embedded layers providing the nesting single photograph with added information. Through its interactive features, the Meta-Image expands and empowers the digital photograph by incorporating - for instance - debates on its finalised design, the ethics of its aesthetics, and the explanation of specific storytelling techniques.
The upper part of the nested layers - the interactive Meta-Image (MI) - are activated by audiences as they choose to engage more with the photograph and its communicative universe.
The lower part of the nested layers - the passive Meta-Image (MI) - trace how design, i.e. composition and aesthetics, thoroughly shapes the semiotics of the image.
A gif with more details on the passive Meta-Image, and how aesthetics impresses communication.
In such a scenario, aesthetics is strategically enhanced rather than neglected for the photograph: as a result, are represented 'real/s' falsified, misled or, on the contrary, communicated more consistently with the photographer's vision? What are they for, and according to which space of representation?
In 2008 Peter Greenaway reminded his viewers that ‘just because you have eyes does not mean to say that you can see.’ I agree that, in spite of its richness and complexities, visual communication still remains profoundly overlooked and trivialised.
This is the reason why the overall philosophy of the tool of the Meta-Image is to use its interactive structure to advance the field of visual studies, and inform the public sphere with its digitally augmented communication.
In parallel, the renewed appreciation of the storytelling capabilities of each and every image offers audiences with 'informed communication' rather than 'clearly-cut forensics.' In fact, by incorporating interventions from different parties, the Meta-Image turns the photograph into a space to question, explore and contextualise much more than assessing the Real.
The presumed paradigms shift from verbal-driven to visual-centred communication urges digital storytelling to be practiced and - at the very same time - theorised.
In response, the Meta-Image and The Image As Storytelling aspire to combine educational capabilities with creative storytelling production, and advance professional and public awareness on the changed space, role and dynamics of today's visual communication.
I’m currently exploring the feasibility of translating all the above for a mobile App.
Isn't this marvellous?
The Image As Storytelling
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 and volumes inside the image, while the latter points to the visualization strategies of the image’s data.
As such, design is unquestionably what 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 have 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 far-reaching and thorough impact.
This is the reason why I approach design not as that ‘which re-signifies the real,’ but - instead - as an ideologically neutral 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 visual media and today’s digital storytelling communicate.
Continue here to my talk at the round table on the Future of Photography on May 9th 2017, in which I officially launched the project 'The Image As Storytelling.'
Continue here to discover my latest project of interactive digital communication on the Cairo Tentmakers, in which more than 400 different media are connected for an enhanced experience of image storytelling.
Continue here to a wide variety of PDF documents, including my biography, CV, portraits and logo, consulting activities, exhibitions, for public usage.