Audio-visual rhetorics of affect

Audio-Visual Rhetorics of Affect

Audio-Visual Rhetorics of Affect
Image Credit: Mariano Mantel flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Junior research group “Audio-visual rhetorics of affect”, funded by the federal ministry of education and research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF)

‚Crisis‘ as a mode and sujet of societal communication seems to be omnipresent. But considering the dynamics behind crises and their media representations, we immediately encounter more general questions regarding media communication and its role within modern democracies: How are the challenges a media community faces shaped by audio-visual images? Are those images per se ‘neutral‘ representations, or do they draw on rhetorical strategies? How do moving images and their – aesthetical as well compositional – features influence moods and feelings we associate with certain topics, events, or phenomena? And what role would rhetorical strategies aiming at emotional attitudes play with regard to our ideas on, perceptions of, and engagement within media communities?

The junior research group “Audio-visual rhetorics of affect“ attempts to answer these questions with the help of a systematic-empirical study of staging patterns in feature films, documentaries and TV-reports on the global financial crisis since 2007. On the one hand, fundamental questions regarding the affective qualities of audio-visual images as well as their persuasive potentials are being addressed – a perspective which we have come to describe with the term rhetorics of affect. On the other hand, we are developing a systematic approach to the analysis of audio-visual rhetorics and their affective qualities that includes digital methods like video annotation, semantic knowledge structures and machine learning. Hence, the project is being carried out as a cooperation between Freie Universtät Berlin’s film studies department (Seminar für Filmwissenschaft) and the Hasso-Plattner-Institut for Digital Engineering (Potsdam).