[237130, A3] Wk 9: Weekly Project Development
Mirzoeff discusses visual activism in the context of bringing about change through visual media. Visual activism is the action of using visual texts and media in order to prompt change. This is accomplished through artists/designers creating work to prompt an audience to start a discussion around social, political, cultural, economic, and similar injustices. The spread of these messages through digital mass media is key in accessing the global audience in starting these discussions. By holding a mirror to the face of injustice, visual texts can act as catalysts for change.
Mirzoeff proposes that visual activism goes hand in hand with visual thinking and visual culture. Visual thinking is the process of actively questioning how visual representations of subjects reflect the context in which they were created, and what purpose they aim to serve. In this day and age, through mass access to visual media through the internet, we see visual thinking as being vital in dissecting the onslaught of information and seeing what this reflects of modern society. Through this process of visual thinking, artists and designers are able to identify injustices which can be challenged through visual activism.
Considering an Injustice
An injustice I have always felt strongly about in society is that of the stigma surrounding the subject of mental illness. As a sufferer of anxiety, depression and hallucination, I understand that an equal spectre to the symptoms of mental illness is the pressure of what others will think of those who experience them.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that while 1 in 4 people globally will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives, 2/3rds of these people will not seek treatment due to stigma, neglect, or propagation of false information on symptoms, severity and treatment (World Health Organisation).
I would like to consider this injustice through the lens of visual culture in modern context as Nicholas Mirzoeff discusses in How to See the World. As such, I’m thinking it would be an interesting dimension to explore how misconceptions surrounding mental disorders are perpetuated in media and pop culture, particularly through the entertainment industry. The entertainment industries of film, video games, television, music and so forth permeate so much of modern-day life that dissemination of misinformation must massively contribute to stigma against mental illness.
As such, I have decided to challenge the propagation of misinformation surrounding mental illness in the entertainment industry through visual activism.
The following diagram depicts a brainstorm I did of possible subjects to look into regarding the development of my visual activism piece. I will be looking further into these topics throughout the research process.
Here I touch on some resources I have found using some of the questions and topics listed in the above brainstorm image. I want to look further into their value as a resource at a later date:
- The World Health Organisation is a good resource providing up-to-date statistical reports on subjects including mental disorders and treatment globally:
- An interview with Dr. Danny Wedding, co-writer of the book Movies and Mental Illness: Using Film to Understand Psychopathology, and ex-director of Missouri Institute of Mental Health:
- A blog called Everyday Feminism, which wrote an article discussing misrepresentation of mental disorders in media. The comment section is of particular interest:
- An online activism group advocating for ending stigma against mental health sufferers, timetochange.org.uk, wrote this pamphlet on stereotypes of mental illness in movies:
- An online culture magazine targeted at a younger audience, discussing the romanticism of mental illness in media in the following article:
- Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World: A Pelican Introduction. London: Pelican Books, 2015.
- World Health Organisation. “Mental Disorders Affect 1 in 4 People: Treatment Available but not Being Used.” 2001. World Health Report (Geneva). 23 June 2016. <http://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/>.