Melissa’s Visual Rhetoric

1.When I thought about U.S. history and culture some of these image immediately came to mind while others were very thought out. Each image gives me a different feeling. Some images make me proud and happy while others are disheartening and tragic. Most of the images I chose occurred rather recently in my lifetime like the presidential election and the naked selfie of Kim K breaking the internet, while others I was not alive during, but still have great meaning like the “We can do it” picture and the constitution. I do not think that you have to live through things for them to be meaningful to you, but it does leave a greater impact when you experience it first hand. These images support the first principle of visual rhetoric because images are how we remember, they can often shape our views, we learn visually and it helps create our collective memory. The second principle of rhetoric states that images evoke positive and negative responses because a picture is worth a thousand words. If these images were not recorded then we would often not remember, the image of Kim K was so controversial sparking outrage and empowering females simultaneously. The third principle states that images are emotional, the image of the twin towers collapsing on 9/11 was an emotional day across America and the picture is able to bring back that devastating emotion felt on that day.

2. Pictures can create a virtual experience through sensory stimuli such as visuals. Each picture creates a unique virtual experience because they all take us to different places, different times and different events. At the same time, as authentic as the images are they can also alter our perception of something that happened because images do not give the whole story. Many times images of war or abortion can change the public or an elected officials opinion and stance on the issue, but this is dangerous because images do not give details. If people saw the image of Kim K without knowing the story they might be led to believe this image was leaked to the media rather than knowing she posted it herself. Many other images alter perceptions in more powerful ways than the images I have chosen. Most of the images I chose seek a consummatory purpose – appreciation or honor – such as the Cavs victory, Simone Biles gold medal win and the military. Others have an instrumental purpose seeking action from the audience such as the presidential election, Rosie the Riveter and 9/11. The instrumental purpose is to inspire the audience to take action. The image of 9/11 measures up better than the rest of the images having an instrumental purpose because this image is so recognizable and powerful which made many people want to take action against terrorists because of this day and the image servers as a reminder. The gold medal serves a consummatory purpose of honoring the United States during the Olympics and the champion, Simone Biles.

3. The tone of Trump and Clinton’s picture is very serious due to the up close shot of their faces which also shows intimacy. The symmetry of the photo also seems to suggest formality supporting the serious tone of the photo. Miley and Robin Thicke give off a sexual tone, 9/11 has a solemn tone, gay rights has a powerful tone, many other images have a tone of pride, Cavs have a cheerful tone, Kim K has a sexy “empowering” tone. Depending on the way the picture is viewed, the general tone could be different. Many elements go into the purpose and tone of an image such as shape, space, focus, color, lighting and angle of the camera. Whether an image is in black and white or color can change the tone from classic to many other meanings depending on the color. A high angle shot can show weakness while a low angle will often convey a powerful tone such as the gay rights flag photo.

4. Many of these photos have a specific target audience such as the pictures of Rosie the Riveter and Kim K. Obviously, both from different time frames, but the target audience is mostly women because the image is meant to empower. The target audience of the pictures of the crowd taking selfies, the religious meme and Miley Cyrus are millennials because these are all representations of ourselves and how the media consumes us. These photos will be more recognizable to us than any other generation because of the world we grew up in. The other images are mostly recognizable photos from American history that most people would recognize. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Constitution, 9/11 and the Olympic gold medal are all important staples in America that education and media has taught us about as well as being alive during this time. I believe the images of some of these photos could be discriminating to a certain target audience, but there is a diverse range of photos that connect with different groups of people. U.S. history and culture is super diverse and always changing and I think these images represent that. The pictures of Kim K and Miley Cryus invite voyeur tendencies because of the nudity and obscenity of the photographs even though both women feel it is empowering and not racy to dress, or not dress, how they please.

5. Primary appeals are used to persuade the audience through ethos, logos and pathos. These appeals are used in the composition of the photo, the most powerful appeal is pathos, trying to persuade someone with their emotions. A lot of these images are able to do that especially the picture of 9/11. I think that 9/11 is cultural specific because everyone in our country and culture views that picture and feels sorrow and remembers such a devastating loss while other nations would not feel quite the emotion we do. When younger children grow up and see the photo they might not recognize it because they weren’t alive when it happened and could think it was only a fire that did the damage to these buildings. Some of these images form enthymematic responses because they are so powerful that people can look at them and be persuaded by their emotions while other people would need more context to understand the meaning of the image. The Cavaliers victory is also cultural specific because if you don’t follow sports, live in Ohio, or are a fan of them in any way then people might not know who this team is and why they have a trophy. Culture plays a huge role in shaping the image to a particular meaning.

6. If the picture representing gay rights had a different pictorial composite such as changing the color to black and white, the image would not give the same reaction as it does now. Black and white images are seen as classic, but the colors in the flag is what makes this picture so meaningful and the reaction would be lost otherwise. The rainbow represents unity and gay rights as portrayed in this powerful image. According to media critic, Joshua Meyerowitz, low-angle shots, like the gay rights image, suggest power and authority which is the reaction I initially got from the photo. Just from the color of the photo and the angle of the camera this image speaks to the power of gay rights.

7. I think the photographer definitely plays a role in the credibility of a photo. I find it interesting that a man created the painting of Rosie the Riveter which the purpose of the image is to empower women. Kim K is the photographer of her own photo and she also posted it on social media as well, it was not leaked, so I think that credits her for wanting to “empower” women to love their bodies. At the same time people didn’t think that was her true intention of the image and began to slut shame her and state she only wanted publicity. A lot of the other images I chose have unknown creators, but if someone who was against gay rights took the picture of the men holding the rainbow flag then the picture might be more of a mockery than of a powerful moment. By the way the image is focused and has a high-angle, I definitely think it was taken by someone proud to be apart of the movement and that gives them credibility by the way the shot was taken.

8. Looking at all of these different pictures together definitely influences my reaction to some of the photos. Some of the images are so powerful and important to our history like the constitution, our military, and gay rights, while other images seem so insignificant when put beside them (Kim K, Miley Cyrus, memes). The pictures that now look insignificant are still important, as most of them represent today’s culture. Those images show the impact the media and technology has had on our society while the other iconic photos remind us of an important day in American History that has shaped our nation.

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