Media Majlis hosts session on dynamics of persuasion in digital age

September 01, 2021
An interactive exhibition at The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar looks at the power of persuasion and the use of persuasive techniques in media. Unraveling Persuasion explores the arts and sciences of persuasion by examining its omnipresence in various aspects of everyday life as well as the origin of the language and psychology of persuasive communication, from early television in Britain to contemporary media in the Middle East.
“Media, politics, language, culture, religion, and all aspects of our lives are influenced by the power of persuasion and influence us in turn,” said Pamela Erskine-Loftus, director of the Media Majlis. “Unraveling Persuasion delves deep into the history and theories of persuasive messaging to help visitors understand the power of persuasion and increase their awareness of its impact in influencing our behaviors and molding our perceptions of the world around us.”
The exhibition features three digital installations to help visitors understand how advertising and different forms of media, such as posters, social media, body language, speech, and sloganeering, enable the subjection of individuals and societies to political and social influence.
Where do you stand?, a film-based interactive installation, includes a recorded experiment displayed on a big screen through which participants respond to statement prompts based on their frames of reference. Visitors attending the exhibition engage with the experiment to examine the impact of values and belief systems on guiding individuals’ thinking and influencing their decisions.
Spanning the main exhibition space is What Would You Die For?, a commissioned video installation by the internationally renowned artist Bahia Shehab. The 360-degree installation tackles the concept of mass persuasion by exposing visitors to the ideas that individuals and societies across time and space have considered as worth dying for.
In another interactive installation, Trophy Camera, visitors learn to critique the tropes and conventions of photojournalism and to be critical of the published images they consume and respond to in everyday life. Throughout their interaction with the installation, they use a special AI-powered camera to capture elements of an award-winning photograph and share their entries with people around the world.
The exhibition logo, designed by VCUart Qatar Professor Basma Handy and alumni from VCUart, combines elements of the Arabic and English typefaces and typography to demonstrate languages’ ability to induce persuasive influence across and beyond the Arab world.
“Language is a powerful tool [that is] integral to the complex and multifaceted process of persuasion,” Hamdy said. “In developing the logo, we wanted to represent the idea of ‘unraveling’ as navigating a maze to discover the multifaceted complexity of persuasion. It was important for us to create a strong typographic presence in both English and Arabic and to integrate the title within the complexity of the maze.”
In addition to the content exhibited, Unraveling Persusation is accompanied by a series of events and online programs that are open to the public, including discussions with academics and experts on the dynamics of persuasion as well as the use of persuasive tools in marketing and cross-cultural communication.
The Media Majlis is open Sunday to Wednesday from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The current exhibition will run until December 11, 2021.
To learn more about the museum and its programs, please visit its website.