Storytelling as a means of communication in the United Kingdom's creative industries

Young, Nicholas ORCID logoORCID: (2019) Storytelling as a means of communication in the United Kingdom's creative industries. In: Fifth International Conference on Media and Popular Culture, 12 January 2019, Queens Hotel, Leeds. (Unpublished)


This was a talk delivered at the 5th International Conference on Media and Popular Culture. My talk was on my ‘Reductionist Manifesto’. How I developed a methodology and the uses I have put it to. Over the course of my professional career I have worked in both large and small design and advertising agencies and experienced many methods of working. But there has always been one constant. Clients. My job was to convey the benefit of their product or service in a compelling and engaging way. This is often where the trouble begins. Clients who have paid a lot of money for creative work and media space want to say as much as possible to as many people as possible. But by trying to say everything they often end up saying nothing. Bombarding an audience with too much information can be a turn off. They don’t know what to ignore first. My instinct has always been that less is more. Discover what the most important thing is and say it clearly. But to be brief is to be brave. In Erich Harth’s (2004) paper ‘Art and Reductionism’, he explains that in physics reductionism attempts to weave a fabric of cause and effect from the complex to the elementary: ‘reductionism is the most powerful strategy known to science’ (Ramachandran, 2001, cited in Harth, 2004: 111). However, the human brain doesn’t behave this way. Our thoughts and feelings are not just shaped by the bottom-up influences of our genes but by the top-down effects of experience. ‘Reductionism’ already has many definitions, some of them derogatory, suggesting it was to simplify a complex idea or issue to the point of obscuring or distorting it (, 2014). This is the opposite of what I want to do I define ‘Reductionism’ as ‘Storytelling through absence’. The intention of my ‘Reductionist Manifesto’ is to interrogate the theory that less can be more. To provide a methodology that can be used by storytellers to reduce the amount of information one communicates. And to use the experience of the audience to help tell a story.

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