A motif is a recurring pattern. 

A visual motif is a repeating pattern in the visual arts.

10 Visual Motifs that American Science Fiction Borrowed from Anime from io9

In film noir, a visual motif is using darkness to obscure part of a character’s face.

A visual motif in a film (or a story app) isn’t necessarily static. Hitchcock repeatedly made use of mirror shots and divided screens, which became a visual motif. He also made much use of light and shadow. There were reasons for this, which is what makes it a motif.

In our storybook app Midnight Feast, lights are used as a visual motif throughout. As lights dance around Roya, she fails to ‘see the light’ — she fails to see what’s right outside her own window.