Visible Voice is an international network of researchers, community groups and activists with an interest in using visual media for collaborative research and community development. We make use of the transformative potential of participatory video and photography to explore and support community actions aiming to improve the quality of everyday life, health and well being in partner communities. Our aim is to engage with communities around the world using visual media, local and international exhibitions and online networking to share experiences and understandings, raise issues and concerns and to engage in a rich dialogue through visual activism for social change for a better world.
We believe that sharing small parts of our lives through visual narratives and exhibitions we open up a dialogue that will enrich lives and empower people to make and demand changes at local and global levels.
Back in 2002, I was working in Higher Education. I had started using photography and video to help students develop their analytical and narrative skills around complex social issues. At that time I was also leading a European Union funded project to develop Public Health education and training at the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia.
During the projects I used video and photography to record some of our experiences as we worked together and I quickly came to see how useful visual records were for focusing attention, analysing and working together across different cultures, disciplines and localities.
Along my Kyrgyz friends from that first project, we set out to test an new approach to learning about everyday life, community engagement through a process of collaborative visual ethnography. We called that process Visible Voice.
Visible Voice developed over the years and quickly became central to my everyday work with people and communities in different countries. A variety of ‘shoestring’ projects emerged as the process developed and spread to different communities. Our work included semi nomadic herder communities in Kyrgyzstan, Favela communities in Rio de Janeiro, migrant and indigenous women’s groups across Canada, as well as refugees, migrants, gypsies and travellers in the UK. All kinds of people have been involved with Visible Voice over the years. Our projects are always open and collaborative engaging with individuals and communities students, researchers, health workers, teachers and community activists living and working in diverse social settings.