Sunday, February 23, 2014

Realism in Images

A picture says a thousand words, but does Realism make the list? While photos are meant to portray unbiased truth, the myth of photographic truth still lingers in our culture today. Digital editing software allows normal photos to be altered in both positive and negative lights. According to the French theorist, Roland Barthes, “...myth is the hidden set of rules and conventions through which meanings, which are specific to certain groups, are made to seem universal and given for a whole society” (p.20).

Option 1: In Figure 1, Time magazine darkened the skin tone of then suspect, O.J. Simpson because of the “...historical convention of using darker skin tones to connote evil and to imply guilt” (p.25). At the time of the release of the Time magazine, Simpson wasn’t even on trial yet, and before he even had a fair chance, was viewed as a murderer because of his darkened skin tones, stereotyping him as a criminal. 
As a starting point, some of these questions may help you think about how color and digital editing affects our culture. Why do you think a world renowned magazine, such as Time, went to such lengths to darken Simpson’s skin tone? Do you believe the darker image makes him look like more of a criminal than that of the lighter image? Do you think American’s would have reacted more positively to Simpson had the original image (on Newsweek magazine) been placed on news stands? How do you think the colors affected readers of Time? If you saw this picture as an adult in 1994, would you view Simpson as a criminal? Why or why not?

Figure 1, Digital editing done by Time and real picture on Newsweek magazine
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Option 2: "To explore the meaning of images is to recognize that they are produced within dynamics of social power and ideology. Ideologies are systems of belief that exist within all cultures. Images are an important means through which ideologies are produced and onto which ideologies are projected" (22-23). Looking back to last week, where we focused on how women are portrayed by the media, take a look at Figure 2, and apply this week's reading about images, ideology, and representation. Why is photoshop used to alter the appearance of models? What does it represent for companies, products, and society? This is a still taken from the below video, Figure 3, that goes through this process. What does this say about the ideology of our society?

Figure 2,  before and after photoshopping, still from video
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Figure 3: Photoshop makes anything possible video
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"Image Authentication and Forensics | Fourandsix Technologies - Photo Tampering throughout History." Image Authentication and Forensics | Fourandsix Technologies - Photo Tampering throughout History. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. 

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. "Images, Power, and Politics." Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2009. 1-46. Print.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Women in the Media and Society

So this week we are reading “The Empire of Images in Our World of Bodies” by Susan Bordo and we are watching Miss Representation in class. Susan Bordo discusses how images and the media portray ideals for women and girls. Plastic surgery and age defying methods are a focus at the beginning, but then she transitions to gender differences for toys and videos by talking about her daughter. Miss Representation depicts how society sees women and how the media portrays them. For example, how men see woman in politics and how women feel the need to compete with other women.

For this blog posting we have two options for discussion:
Figure 1: Halle Berry - Catwoman.
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Option 1: Miss Representation talked about women in film and television. The point was made that there are very few women protagonists that are complex or have story lines void of love stories or involving any men sexually/romantically. An argument could be made that Catwoman is an example of such a woman protagonist. Not only are there few women protagonists, but also few producers, writers, and directors that are women in the industry. We propose that you find an example of a woman protagonist who is not what the film deems the “bangable” hero or the chick flick heroine. On the flip side, we propose that you find a blatant example of such a “bangable” hero or a classic chick flick heroine. Try to post a video, image, trailer, or movie poster that you can find with one these women and discuss how they are an example of one of these stereotypes or not.

Option 2: In “The Empire of Images in Our World of Bodies” by Susan Bordo, there is a point about gender and advertisements along with consumer items. If you ever walked into a toy store there is a girl aisle and a boy aisle. The only aisles that sometimes you can find gender neutral toys are the baby aisles. We would like it if you could find an advertisement that is gender neutral for toys or any other consumer item. Or find one that is so completely stereotypical, that it is very obvious. On the other hand, find a toy or an example from a store that is gender neutral as well. Think about Susan’s article and make argument about how this reflects and affects children in our society. Below we've included commercials that we found are very gender specific, along with one little girl's opinion about toys and gender.
Figure 2: Nerf Strike Commercial. 
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Figure 3: Easy Bake Oven Commercial. 
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Figure 4: Riley on Marketing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

For this weeks blog we’ve decided to put focus on the first essay.  I never really get a chance to talk to other classmates about interesting essay topics and what we plan on writing on so now I’ll do the most interesting thing i can.  I invite you all to engage in an open forum for so we can pick each other brains.  Now you don’t have to necessarily post your thesis statements however you could post your examples of visual rhetoric and say why you find it interesting (or uninteresting).  

Option 1:
Now because we’re allowed to write about anything, I’d assume anything we chose to write about for this essay is a personal choice and perhaps gives insight into who we are (to some extent).  And really, what I’m most personally interested in, is aesthetic.  So do you think your visual is aesthetically pleasing?  Why or why not?  Provide some analysis on colors used, typeface/font, shapes, etc.  There is much opportunity in this option to use what you know and the best part is, we get to see into the minds of other students which is rare for any class.

The readings we've done in class have helped familiarize us with terminology and visual concepts. Many of these terms and techniques will be utilized in your first essays. As an alternative to going in depth into your essay's topic, cite and discuss a particular section of a reading (or an entire reading itself) and discuss why the reading helped you gain a stronger understanding of visual rhetoric. What did you consider to be very useful to you or excellent advice? What was confusing? Use this space to discuss any material you may not have understood or need some clarity with. How did having the student example essays help you think about your own essay? Was there anything these students did that you found to be effective?

A quick note from Dave to start things off:
Originally I was going to write about something different but instead I switched it to the subject of music videos, specifically one of my favorite ones.  Music videos are hard for me to write about because I wear my biases on my sleeve and of course the song is capable into persuading you to like any accompanying visuals regardless of what they are.  However I’ll apply a trick I learned from a film class and watch the video with sound and then without it. This video is more aesthetic with sound than without it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Applying Scott McCloud's "Show & Tell" to a Modern Image.

Applying Scott McCloud's "Show & Tell" to a Modern Image.

In the provided reading this week, Scott McCloud uses comic form to utilize both pictures and words, explaining the importance of the integration of the two alongside one another, but also showing the power that comes from separating the two. McCloud explains that there can be playful competition in images that combine both words and picture, but that this can "subvert the overall goals".

The first figure below is of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder. (Image from )
The second figure is some basic generated text, stating "Freedom Of Speech". Retrieved/generated from/at from
The third figure an image we generated combining the Assange image and the "Freedom Of Speech" text. Retrieved/generated from/at
All three are very powerful forms of visual rhetoric, each with their own direct messages.

                                         FIGURE 1

                                          FIGURE 2

                                          FIGURE 3