The Image As Storytelling

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 traces 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.

This April 24th, I entered the BBC to present my developing mobile App to teach and learn visual journalism during an event on the future of digital journalism at the Arabic service.

 

Over the last years, media forms and formats boomed to produce an over-abundance of media productions spread over multiple media platforms, all of them digital.

It is estimated that more images were produced in 2017 than throughout the whole history of photography till 2007.

This translates into an over-filled multimedia and trans-format (the same image appears on Instagram, Twitter and FB) communicative spaces.

As a result, what is today’s digital journalism? How to produce it and have it recognised? More importantly, how to make a living as a digital journalist?

More information on my developing App – The Meta-Image is available on the dedicated section of this website.

Building on 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 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.

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?