Nov 12 2015

Me-Mo: Memory in Motion

by Billy Kung

Traditionally, photographers working in the field of documentary have always relied on the mainstream media to get their stories across, in newspapers and magazines, books and television. Over the last two decades, however, due to economic factors, many of the publications that had once provided a platform for these stories to reach an audience have ceased production dramatically.

Fortunately, a group of well-traveled and award-winning photographers have got together to launch innovative online magazine, Me-Mo, which stands for Memory in Motion. The project is the brainchild of Spanish photographers Manu Brabo, a 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner; Guillem Valle, who won the World Press Photo in 2011; Jose Colon, an Agence France Presse contributor; New York Times contributor, Diego Ibarra Sanchez; and Italian photographer and winner of the 2012 Robert Capa Gold Medal, Fabio Bucciarelli. Together they are working with Iranian Maral Deghati, who has a background in communications, photography and fine arts, as editor-in-chief.

The founders, in partnership with Libre, a group of passionate web-developers, have created Me-Mo with a focus on long-form visual storytelling, using the strength of digital technology and their sensitive eye to produce this uniquely interactive and innovative cross-media digital magazine which combines photography, video, text, 3D animation and info-graphics. The aim of the magazine is to allow photographers to take more control in the presentation and dissemination of their work, and to develop and consolidate new ways of storytelling while still adhering to the classic ethics of documentary photography.

In July 2014, the project was made possible by a successful Indiegogo campaign, launched on the popular crowd-sourcing platform, which raised USD 25,000 from 450 donators. With complete independence from financial and editorial constraints, and no dependency on advertising, the project is able to work towards realizing its ambitious visions with freedom. Not only does it aim at moving away from the frenzy of mass media and the influx of images to focus on more long-term and in-depth projects, Me-Mo hope to support fellow freelancers whose works might not fit into the mainstream news outlets and allow their voices to be heard. After all, Me-Mo is established by freelancers for freelancers.

Me-Mo is published quarterly in English, Spanish and Italian. The Me-Mo team selects a conceptual theme as the premise of each issue. For its inaugural issue in August of last year, the magazine utilized the word miedo—meaning fear in Spanish—to raise discussion on issues of fear, loss of freedom and lack of education in countries such as Libya, Ukraine, Spain and Pakistan. The issue drew from unpublished material created by the founders, including Manu Brabo’s “Tales from a Libyan Jail,” a project which harnessed a personalized look into the plight of suspected Gaddafi loyalist that were imprisoned in Libya. Brabo began the 3-year project after he was held by government troops and imprisoned in military prison in Tripoli for 44 days in 2011. The theme of the current issue centers on the idea of “disintegration,” and features specifically commissioned original material, not only from the founding group but also from an extended roster of freelance contributing photographers and journalists.

Designed as an application for smart tablets, Me-Mo‘s most impressive feature is the way it makes use of interactive technology. Although photography is central to the app experience, the images are contextualized with maps, texts, info-graphics, and in a more immersive way, the reader can track through responsive 360-degree panoramic environments. In an interview for Leica Fotografie International, Guillem Valle said: “. . .In a way, photography is the soul of Me-Mo and interactivity is its body.”

Member of the FSA fires upon enemy positions in Aleppo, Syria. March 2013. Copyright Manu Brabo/Me-Mo.
Member of the FSA fires upon enemy positions in Aleppo, Syria. March 2013. Copyright Manu Brabo/Me-Mo.

Billy Kung is photo editor at ArtAsiaPacific.