A timely new creative project from M&C Saatchi aims to shine a light on how digital culture is affecting mental our health.
The "Visual Diet" initiative is being led by Mimi Gray, Head of Visual Content at M&C Saatchi, in collaboration with Marine Tanguy of MTArt Agency, an agency for visual artists, and photographer Rankin, who believes that selfie culture is both monotonous and dangerous.
It includes art project such as "Selfie Harm," images from which are seen here, in which Rankin photographed 15 teenagers and then handed the images to them to edit, tweak and filter until they felt they were “social media ready." Displayed together, Rankin’s unretouched portraits show their true faces versus the heightened, smoothed, and dramatically changed versions.
The Visual Diet project also includes an in-agency exhibition of five inspiring artists throughout January, plus an Instagram account and a website, visualdiet.co.uk, where people can vote for which images they feel have a positive or negative effect. A digital poster, using AI technology developed by M&C Saatchi, will read people’s reactions to different images as they walk past.
Justin Tindall, group chief creative officer of M&C Saatchi, said: “What we eat affects our bodies, so we’re mindful of what we eat. What we see affects our minds, but we’re rarely mindful of what we look at. It’s time we balanced our visual diets.”
The initiative comes just as the U.K. government is calling for the likes of Facebook and Instagram to protect children and teenagers in particular from harmful online content that could promote self-harm and suicide.