The Future of Visual Storytelling: From The Last Supper to the iPad Tablet

Of late, I've been thinking a lot about visual storytelling and the various ways that the Internet and digital devices like the iPad require us to process information and content. Over the past decade, there has been an astounding rise in the value of visual literacy -- the ability to process information and content that is delivered via images rather than text. When you think about it, all of the most popular forms of new Internet content - whether infographics, casual games or video clips - place a premium on visual storytelling. At the end of the day, the Apple iPad is primarily a device for consuming visual content.

Which is why I've been on the look out for new forms of visual storytelling and new ways of exploring visual literacy. Take, for example, the new Park Avenue Armory exhibit Leonardo's Last Supper: A Vision by Peter Greenaway, which attempts to encourage a new dialogue between painting and cinema. The show takes place within a full-scale replica of Milan's Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, complete with a "clone" of The Last Supper projected on multiple walls, which is then brought to life over 45 minutes using a manipulation of light, sound and theatrical illusion. As Greenaway (best known as the director of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, less so for his 50+ short films and documentaries) points out in the liner notes for the show, the work is a provocation to reconsider our approach to visual literacy in the 21st Century. What happens when the 10 seconds you might spend looking at a masterpiece painting in a museum gets transformed into a 45-minute cinema-like walk-through experience?

"We have had two thousand years of Western painting and only 115 years of cinema. Both are supposedly in the business of delivering ideas by making pictures, by making images. Do they do it well? Do they share the same language? Are they in the same business? [...]

Supposing we try to hold a dialogue between the two? To mingle and share and cross-refer their vocabularies... To use painting to fix and stabilize and limit and frame the image... and to use cinema to make a painting move and change, have a temporal life and have a soundtrack...

That's exactly what Greenaway did - he took DaVinci's famous painting and gave it movement -- through changing colors, changing shadows, different atmospheres, music and even dialogue. The goal, of course, is to discover the multiple layers of meaning in the painting and to explore the techniques used by DaVinci - whether it is the painting's various light sources, the atmosphere and tonality of the work, the relationships between the figures within the painting - even the arrangement of the food and cutlery on the table. Throughout the show, you are free to move about and consider the work from your own unique perspective.

With the arrival and popularity of the iPad and other devices for consuming digital content, are we seeing the development of a new and fascinating era for storytelling that uses video content in entirely new ways?

via: Park Avenue Armory

Lateral thinking: How to workshop innovative ideas

Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.

  • As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
  • The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
  • How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

Straight millennials are becoming less accepting of LGBTQ people

The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
  • The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
  • Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
Keep reading Show less