This is my final post from the series of articles for Der Greif, in which I discuss the limitations of photography and look at some examples of creative projects that inspire social changes. Let’s finish off by peering into the future and trying to predict how visual storytelling may evolve in the next decade or few.
Many hopes are placed on modern technology, and while it’s by no means a panacea (new tools alone can never fix a crisis of ideas), the recent developments certainly offer some exciting possibilities addressing socio-political problems in meaningful and creative ways. Its current key drawback – limited access that allows only a small selected group of people to engage with the work – may well become its strength, once new technologies reach the mass market and become familiar tools we use in our day-to-day lives.
One of the most powerful examples of modern storytelling is The Enemy project. Brainchild of a war photographer Karim Ben Khelifa, who was driven to answer the questions: “Is it possible to invent a new way to make the audience care, to have them think more deeply about war?”, he might well have found a positive answer. The Enemy creates a virtual space in which two combats from opposite sides meet. “Each one of them explains why they are fighting – what made them decide to take weapons in order to defend their beliefs, their family, their country, their clan or their faith, as their parents and their forefathers did before them. By allowing the ones who carry out the violence to explain who they are, their motives and their dreams, the project challenges views held by all sides, and ultimately humanises the combatants”.
Visionary as this work in progress might be, it’s by no means one of its kind, as many visual storytellers around the globe are eagerly embracing new opportunities offered by the recent technological advances. As exciting as it appears, it’s important to remember that it’s not the new gadgets, but the primal human desire to share stories, raise questions and seek answers that drive the real social change.