Last night’s reading from Sturken and Cartwright discussed images and the powerful representation they are able to present to a viewer.
One of the most underrated tools of communication is simply acknowledging something by looking. You can do that with images.
Photographic images can recreate a scene that’s already happened. That recreation allows viewers to partially live events in history in which they weren’t live witnesses. In some cases, photographs went on to spur action in a political, social or patriotic sphere. Before the Civil Rights Movement, a boy named Emmitt Till was murdered because of the racial discrimination and hatred of others. His mother chose to keep the casket open and allow photographs. This helped lead to the initiation of reform.
Other artists use visual representation as well. Marion Peck used Buddhist ideals to create an image that displayed non-living things as living things. The image referred to matter and the universe.
One myth about photography is that it recreates truth. Even though a picture maybe a representation of reality and unedited, it still isn’t an unbiased view of the world. The photographer took that picture because IT WAS THE BEST PICTURE.
We as human beings are not always our best. We put on nice clothes when yearbook or wedding pictures are taken. We don’t dress that nicely every day. Therefore, those pictures aren’t a 100 percent clear representation of us. Photography is not always objective, even when we want it to be. It isn’t always appropriate for photographs to convince us of an ideal.
Sturken and Cartwright also wrote about ideology and its relationship to images. Understanding this relationship allows us to understand how influential social power is through things like visual media and art.
Ideologies are systems are systems of belief that exist within every culture. The ones with social power usually have the ability to create an ideal scenario or image. This is especially present in fashion and sports.
What is the perfect girl? Is she tall? Thin? Nice smile? Pretty hair?
That’s subjective but fashion ads use images to create the idea that a perfect girl would wear a certain company’s clothes. These companies use visual rhetoric to persuade women to buy their clothes to make them look similar to the “ideal” girl in the ad.
Photography can also be used to tell a story of shame. On page 25, O.J. Simpson’s mug shot is on the cover of Newsweek. O.J. had gone from a popular football player and spokesperson to a man indicted of first-degree murder. He became a different type of public figure once that picture hit the newsstands.
The use of images is similar to the use of a language. When you see a brand’s logo, you instantly are reminded of their products. When I see a swoosh, I think of Nike.
Sturken and Cartwright give more examples:
- Marlboro Man
- Anti-Smoking ads
Images can possibly have more meaning than 800 page books. The image of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima brings the thought of patriotism to every American. Men sacrificed their lives to keep their fellow citizens free. The flag represented how they triumphed and succeeded in the face of true adversity.
That image has incredible value. It is one of the most recognizable photographs in American history.
Other images that speak to me, in no particular order:
- 9/11, people jumping out of towers.
- Family pictures.
- Soldiers returning home.
- A boy and his childhood dog.
- Covers of SI
- Rolling Stone covers (controversial)
What images speak the most to you?
How do certain images go viral?