April 18, 2019

Murray on Mise en Scene and the Decisive Moment of Visual Legal Rhetoric

Michael D. Murray, University of Kentucky College of Law, is publishing Mise en Scène and the Decisive Moment of Visual Legal Rhetoric in volume 68 of the Kansas Law Review. Here is the abstract.
This article explores the attorney author’s understanding and implementation of principles that define how visual rhetorical works fulfill the task of effective visual communication and advocacy. These principles — referred to as mise en scène — will guide the attorney author in the identification or creation of works that will exhibit the “decisive moment” of effective visual rhetoric in legal contexts. In equal measure, knowledge and understanding of these principles will enable litigators to design and use effective visuals, and to challenge or respond to the visual rhetorical works proffered by their opponents. The article displays and analyzes a series of works of visual rhetoric and critiques the power and potential effectiveness of the image for the communication of the message or argument of the author. The goal of an attorney’s effort should be to choose or create images that show the decisive moment of the client’s narrative or the point of argument that the image is to communicate. This article will guide attorney authors in setting the stage for effective visual legal rhetoric. Introduction I. The Context: Visual Legal Rhetoric and Narrativity A. Speed and Power of Visual Works B. The audience’s role in visual communication C. Narrative and Applied Legal Storytelling II. Mise en Scène Principles A. The Dominant B. Lighting C. Color vs. Black and White D. Point of View and Perspective E. Composition and Framing, including the arrangement of subjects, the Gestalt theory, and the figure-ground relationship 1. The Rule of Thirds and the Golden Ratios 2. The Rule of Odds 3. Filling the Frame without Overcrowding 4. Gestalt Theory and the Figure-Ground Relationship F. Staged vs. Unstaged Photographs and Video G. Altered and Manipulated Images 1. Editing and Cropping 2. Modification, concealing, or erasing of content III. Confronting Visual Legal Rhetoric IV. Conclusion

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

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