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The Kony 2012 Campaign: A Milestone of Visual Storytelling for Social Engagement

Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society

ISBN: 978-1-80043-907-8, eISBN: 978-1-80043-906-1

Publication date: 8 July 2021


Images had long conveyed politics through forms as varied as private paintings and public coins. If images are storytelling vectors (Fusari, 2017), visual artefacts were intended to re/shape human perception of current events and, consequently, their states of ‘being in the world’ (Heidegger, 2001); this is the reason why the visual quality of communication might be hard to disjoin from that of ‘performativity’ (Cartier-Bresson, 2018).

The polysemic (Barthes, 1977), if not fully open (Eco, 1989), quality of visual semiotics complicates identification of any framework of reference and adds to the need for practical and sensible research in digital communication (Fusari, in press).

Since the first US Presidential debate televised in 1968, a new interest surged towards the understanding and production of visual communication of politics. Increasingly so, images (both still and moving ones) have affected, if not thoroughly shaped, understanding of all recent political affairs, particularly so from the 1992's Gulf War onward (Baudrillard, 1995; Kellner, 1992).

The 2012 Invisible Children (IC)'s campaign is here assessed as the milestone marking the potential for global impact acquired by socio-political visual-centred storytelling.

The intertwining of the digital with the visual has yet to be precisely arranged for socio-political storytelling; also, storytelling as a format and approach has increasingly gained relevance, adding new concerns to issues of veracity.

In response, this chapter advances the notion of ‘storyline’ in conjunction with that of ‘storytelling’: the resulting taxonomy aims to review specific notions of truth- and trust-fulness from a visual-centred perspective.

The chapter thus explores the requirements for communicating and understanding visual storytelling on digital media; by doing so, it addresses the extent to which ‘visual storytelling’ might be a notion fit for the job of disseminating today's digital cultures.

Eventually, the chapter will question how to design visually centred communication formats and, in turn, engage these as storytelling of socio-political issues for digital platforms.



Fusari, M. (2021), "The Kony 2012 Campaign: A Milestone of Visual Storytelling for Social Engagement", Grech, A. (Ed.) Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society (Digital Activism and Society: Politics, Economy And Culture In Network Communication), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 155-173.



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