The Meta-Image

In September 2018 I began looking for ways to deliver some basic training on visual literacy and storytelling via a mobile App.

Through a generous grant from the Quintin Hogg Trust (QHT), I devised MIA, the Meta-Image App, by integrating my PhD research with 25+ years of professional practice.

In November 2023, as I work the latest details, I start presenting MIA to wider publics, starting from a brief conversation on the Italian State TV, RAI News 24.

My App is visually-embedding, multi-media and multi-layered.

The background for the App’s development, as Greenaway reminds us, is the consideration that “just because you have eyes does not mean to say that you can see.” I agree that, in spite of its richness and complexity, visual communication still remains massively overlooked and deeply trivialised, with all the world around us further rushing in that direction.

My aim is to offer a user-friendly, visual-first and sensible tool to better understand and learn to think visually and produce better images.

A work-in-progress template for the Meta-Image.
© Massimiliano Fusari / Massimedia – Aesthetics As Storytelling.

The first prototype of MIA relied on actable layers on top of the photograph/video to expand and enhance understanding and practice of current visual-centred storytelling.

The upper parts of the nested layers – what I initially called the “active” Meta-Image – are activated by the user as they choose to engage more with the photograph and its communicative universe.

The lower parts of the nested layers – what I initially called the “passive” Meta-Image – traced how design, i.e. composition by aesthetics, thoroughly shapes the semiotics of the image.

A GIF with more details on the passive element of The Meta-Image, and how aesthetics impresses communication.
© Massimiliano Fusari / Massimedia – Aesthetics As Storytelling.

The overall philosophy of MIA, the Meta-Image mobile App is:

[1] to facilitate a renewed appreciation of the storytelling capabilities of each and every image.

[2] to offer users ‘informed communication’ rather than ‘clearly-cut forensics.’

[3] finally, to advance professional and public awareness and social advocacy on the changed space, role and dynamics of today’s visual storytelling.

Through its interactive features, the Meta-Image App expands and empowers the digital photograph by incorporating – for instance – debates on its finalised design, the ethics of its aesthetics and the explanation of particular storytelling techniques.

In so doing, it is hoped, the Meta-Image App will prompt users to engage the complexities of today’s visual cultures, and learn from them as they use their smartphones camera.

In November 2017 I presented my research in an academic paper. The framework of the QHT’s bid is available here.

Above, the latest prototype before moving into the release, shortly… Interested?

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Foundations for The Academy?

25+ Years of Practice & Scholarly Research

How did you get

My Research

Services do you offer?

Consulting and Training Activities