Reading images: An Introduction to Visual AnalysisArt & Design in Context 2011-2012Anne Burke
Analysis by Content/ContextContent-what is the image of?-what information does it give us?Context-context in which image is made -social processes in which it is produced-and in which the image is seen -mechanisms governing its circulation and consumptionSource: Open University, Reading Visual Images: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=398988§ion=1.5.4
Strategies for Analyzing Visual Images (Photographs and film) 1. Examine the image holistically Whatdoes it represent? What is your initial
5. Examine poses and body language of human figures How are human figuresdepicted? What emotion do they seem to express?6. Look for bias Do you sense the photographers were trying to manipulate thepeople or events depicted, casting them in either a favorable or negative light? 7.Consider the larger context Does the image offer a fair representation of a largerevent or an isolated exception? 8. Review the image for possiblemanipulation Could camera angles or retouching have altered what appears to be arecord of actual events? 9. Consider the story the image seems to tell What is thethesis of this image? What visual details or symbols help tell the story? from Chapter 3, page 50, Critical Reading, “The Sundance Reader” (4th Ed, 2006) Mark Connelly, Thomson/Wadsworth
Three Part Visual AnalysisAnecdotal: Describe the artwork in general. What is its medium (oil painting, tapestry,lithograph, cast sculpture, domestic architecture, etc) and its genre (landscape, still life,portrait, commercial art, etc). Is it representational and does it tell a story? What is itsbackground or historical context? For what purpose was the artwork created?Formal: Explain the mechanics of the artwork, using terminology appropriate to themedium. Discuss focal point, color, texture, movement, perspective, etc.Symbolic: Analyze the hidden meaning. Discuss gestures, objects, lighting, color, etc,and explain how the anecdotal and the formal aspects of the artwork create a synthesiswhich imbues the image with meaning.
Semiotic Analysis:Semiotics = the study of signsSemiotics is a form of textual analysis, applied to visual images. It is mostwidely used today to analyse advertising images.
Three modes of signs Symbol/symbolic: a learned stand-in for the signified e.g. language in general, numbers, morse code, traffic lights, national flags; Icon/iconic:the signifier resembles or imitates the signified(looking, sounding, feeling, tasting or smelling like it) - : e.g. a portrait, a cartoon, a scale-model, sound effects in radio drama, a dubbed film soundtrack, imitative gestures; Index/indexical: the signifier is directly connected in some way to the signified - : e.g. natural signs (smoke, thunder, footprints, echoes, non- synthetic odours and flavours), medical symptoms (pain, a rash, pulse- rate),signals (a knock on a door, a phone ringing), pointers (a pointing index finger, a directional signpost)), personal trademarks (handwriting, catchphrase)
Forget the woman, get yourself a Bot!Questions to Consider: Are women on theirway to becoming perfectly constructed robots?Why does Svedka use a female bot and not amale bot? How does this ad represent women?What would it mean to be bought (purchased)?Who is the target audience of this ad?What We Think: Svedkahas come out with a new wave of “R. U. Bot Or Not?” ads,including a TV commercial. The SvedkaBot is a woman who has been broken down tothe most “essential” physical features. She is branded with SVEDKA down her leg. As ananimatronic woman, she is designed to serve and she has no needs of her own. Hersingular body type leaves no worries of men having to put up with a woman who fallsoutside the body ideal of 2033 (and today).The “R. U. Bot or Not” tagline has threelevels of meaning. First, it asks if women have achieved the body type of the SvedkaBot. Second, it asks if women have been claimed by men who have bought them a(Svedka) drink. Lastly, if men can purchase a SvedkaBot in 2033, the ad also asks ifwomen have literally been purchased by men.–Juliet Weintraub, http://www.about-face.org/gallery-of-offenders/top-ten-offenders/10-2/
Developing a gendered approach to reading artwork(Gill Perry: Gender & Art History) -authorship: -was work produced by man or woman? -how does our knowledge of this inform our reading of the work? -representation: -how is gender difference represented? -how are men and women represented and are there specific suggestions of feminine or masculine characteristics? -role of gender in the environment represented? -is there a gender dimension to the social/domestic/private/public space inhabited by the male and female figures? -techniques used: -could they be considered as particularly feminine or masculine? -our gender as viewers: -does that affect how we take the work in? -do male and female viewers see the work differently?