Garrett Visual Rhetoric

  1. When looking at these pictures I have a variety of feelings. The first feeling that came to my mind was shame. I feel ashamed of certain parts of our nation’s history. Even though I have not been alive for most of this nation’s history, I still am saddened by certain events such as slavery and the removal of Native Americans from their land. It is already evident that it is not necessary to live through an event in order for it to hold meaning for you. Interestingly, the original horrific events, although they are alluded to are not the main thing depicted in these pictures. These two images are not simply showing us slavery and the removal of Native Americans from their land, they are actually showing the common attitude and reaction to these historical events.

A different feeling that comes to me as I look at some of these pictures is a sense of awe and amazement. Seeing a human being mid-flight is an awe-inspiring event. But what is looks like for a human being to fly may depend on the time period that you are alive. For example, people who were alive in 1903 were amazed and inspired by the first successful flight of the Wright Brothers as picture by the celebration of the two men on the ground. But if your lifetime is closer to 1988, human flight may be better represented by the famous Michael Jordan dunk from the free throw line. As mentioned before, you don’t have to have lived through an event for it to hold meaning for you, but it is possible that more recent things can hold more meaning or be more inspiring. When the Wright Brothers first took flight, people were amazed by this feat, but nowadays people do not seem to be as impressed. To many people today, especially younger folk, that event is just history—far away, and not as relevant. But at the time, it was a present reality—very close and relevant.

The feelings that these images can cause you to feel within a matter of seconds proves that the images are efficient, emotional, and enthymematic. This collection of images contains both images that make you feel good and images that make you feel sorrowful. This demonstrates that the visual messages are volatile, and elicit both positive and negative responses.

  1. These pictures create a virtual experience by stimulating either a painful or a pleasurable experience. Each picture captures a “moment of enactment.” For example, the Moon Landing, Michael Jordan Dunk, and Wright Brothers photos are moments of celebration and accomplishment; these images create a pleasurable experience. This experience of pleasure can alter one’s perception of an event because they associate the event with the good feeling that it gave them. Likewise, experiences of pain can also alter one’s perception of something such as the Nuclear Satire, the 9/11 & slavery references, the Dark Satire of a man using his ladder as firewood, and the “immigrant cartoon.” These images can cause a painful experience for the viewer because the moments of enactment create identification and force us to reexamine taken-for-granted ideas.

The two satirical cartoons, the 9/11 & slavery image, “Help! Please! Someone do something!” image all have an instrumental purpose. They are meant to accomplish a goal of some sort. The other pictures serve a consummatory purpose. There are two images specifically that I think do a better job at their purpose than all the others. The Wright brothers photo, and the “Help! Please! Someone do something!” image. These two pictures are able to connect with the viewer in a way that persuades or inspires them.

  1. The tone of the man burning his ladder and the Migration of slaves both carry a depressing and gloomy tone. The dark color and the downward angle of the images contribute to this tone. The Tone of the Wright Brothers, Mount Rushmore, and Michael Jordan all have an inspiring and proud tone. The upward angle and the figures contribute to this tone.
  1. The obvious, broad target audience for most of these pictures is people who live in the United States. It is a little bit more difficult to determine a specific target audience for the photos. The photos of Mount Rushmore, the Wright Brothers, and the moon landing all seem to target a slightly older audience—an audience that still appreciates authentic historical photographs. The two black and white satire cartoons also would be targeting an older audience since these are the types of satirical cartoons you might see in a newspaper, which older people are more likely to read than the younger generation. The younger generation is targeted more by the pictures that were crafted for social media—the “Help! Please! Somebody do something!” picture, the 9/11 & slavery pictures, the man burning his ladder, and the “‘Murica” pictures all seem to be catered towards people who frequent the internet and social media. There are a surprisingly large number of older people who are now using social media, but the internet is absolutely flooded with young adults, so I believe these pictures are targeting them. A few of the pictures could target several audiences; the Livestrong picture was probably originally meant to target people who were interested in the sport and people who were interested in the cause. The Michael Jordan photo, however, seems to really be targeting people specifically interested in basketball or Michael Jordan. The photo also has a signature on it, so it may be appealing to those interested in collectibles as well. The photos are not completely nondiscrimnating. You can see that the photos differentiate based on intended audience and assumed perceptions. There are a few photos will potential consumer interest, including the Livestrong photo and the Michael Jordan photo; however, there is no voyeur tendencies in this collage.
  2. I would consider most of the appeals in these pictures to be primary appeals since they are trying to persuade the viewer in some way. The “Help! Please! Somebody do something!” picture is not specific to only the United States, as there are other countries who use hashtags on social media, but it is probably understood best in the United States. The man burning his ladder and the Livestrong pictures could be considered universal, or at least broader than the United States. All of the other pictures, however, are culturally specific as they appeal to people who are able to identify with the moment in the photo. These appeals help us form enthymematic responses because we are able to identify with the moment. We already have assumed beliefs about events and moments, so these appeals really aim to get a response from pictures that don’t explain the whole context and leave out parts of the story.
  1. If the moon landing picture hand a different pictorial composite, it would significantly change the reaction to the photo. The photo in its current state is fairly close-up to the man and the equipment. A great percentage of the photo is covered by man/manmade things, such as the flag, the footprints, the man himself, and the equipment. I think this gives the impression that we have inhabited and conquered the moon. But a different type of shot could dramatically alter our perception of the image. Imagine if it were zoomed way out and showed a wide shot, where the man and his belongings only took up a very small portion of the camera. It would give a completely different impression by showing that we have not really conquered the moon, we’ve only explored a small portion of it.
  1. The person credited for a photo can change the meaning and credibility of a picture. For example, if the “’Murica” image was created by an American, it should be looked at as funny way of saying, “Hey, we recognize our shortcomings and can have a little fun too!” But if the creator of the image is from another country, it really becomes a harsh jab at the flaws of Americans.

Another example to consider is if the Livestrong photo was created by someone who was aware of the doping scandals of Lance Armstrong. If so, it would really give prove the lack of integrity of the organization. By putting the face of a cheater next to your foundation, it makes you question the authenticity of the organization. It’s like saying, “This liar and cheater represents us. It’s what we’re all about.”

  1. By putting all of these different pictures into a single collage it can cause a different reaction than if you were to look at each picture separately. This collage is made up of contrasting images; some of the images are of great accomplishments, while others are of great sufferings. By having these all together I think it gives a better perspective of the big picture. If you only saw the bad images you could be led to believe that only bad things happen in America, and nothing good has ever happened. On the other hand, if you only saw the good images, you might be ignorant of all the evils and tragedies that have occurred in this nation. The balance of victorious and sorrowful images gives a truer perspective of reality.
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