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Image Makers Invite Cannes Lions Audience to Think About their Visual Diet


M&C Saatchi’s Mimi Gray, WOW’s Jude Kelly and legendary photographer Rankin on thinking more carefully about the imagery we consume

Image Makers Invite Cannes Lions Audience to Think About their Visual Diet
Amid the flurry of social media posts flying out of the Palais des Festivals this morning as Cannes Lions 2019 whirred to life, one of the first sessions of the week began in a calmer, more dignified manner to most you’ll see this week. After a short introduction, British artist Adelaide Damoah slowly strode on stage and proceeded to spend ten silent minutes performing an art piece. 

She calmly sat in front of the audience, gently cleansed her face, looked at herself in a handheld mirror and began painting using her face. The piece, titled #MYFACE, kept the audience transfixed and served as an informative opening act ahead of the panel discussion to follow.

Chaired by LBB founder and CEO Matt Cooper, the session was called ‘Visual Diet: We are what we see. Exploring the Relationship between Imagery & Mental Health’. The panel included Mimi Gray, head of visual content for M&C Saatchi, Jude Kelly, founder of WOW - Women of the World, and legendary photographer Rankin.

Mimi introduced the basic concept of Visual Diet - an initiative she helped create that is helping people clean up what they consume through their eyes. It’s quite a simple metaphor. We’re all familiar with “you are what you eat”; Mimi summarised the new concept as: “you are what you see. If you have a diet of poor visual content that can have severe consequences for your mental health,” she said.

There is a lot of rubbish out there, essentially, and the apps we consume imagery on aren’t designed with moderation in mind. Rankin noted the gamification that is built into them. They are designed to be addictive and then the society we live in reinforces that. The power of likes and follows on our mental condition is strong and when everyone around us is addicted it’s hard to reject. “They have to be gaming to be part of that social circle,” he said. 

He knows more than most. He admitted that he’s played his part in putting out airbrushed ideals in the past that likely did harm to mental wellness in society. But he’s intrigued by what can change.

To illustrate the level of aesthetics that social media celebrates, Kim Kardashian has 140 million Instagram followers. The Louvre only boasts three million. The norms as a result of this skewing of culture are clear. ‘What’s normal supposed to look like?” asked Jude. “Toxic representation of girls and women is especially harmful,” she said. "We don't have courage to blow this norm up and start again. we've got to rethink our own norms."

Mimi suggested that on a personal level, we can all fight the trash that’s out there, simply by being mindful about the imagery we consume as we consume it and considering what it’s doing to our thoughts and emotions.

But more importantly, image creators have the power to shape new norms of visual consumption. "Brands shape our visual landscape," said Mimi. With this in mind, Visual Diet has which is why #VisualDiet has created a set of guidelines to help brands and creatives be more responsible in their visual output. You can look at that here and start thinking about the aesthetics we’re putting out into society a bit more.
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LBB Editorial, Mon, 17 Jun 2019 16:50:25 GMT