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Visual culture Lecture 2
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  • 1. Images, Ideology,power and politicsFor further reading please seechapter one of - Practices ofLooking (2000) by Sturken, M. andCartwright, L. which this lecture islargely based upon.
  • 2. The Act of looking• We make sense, and develop our views, of theworld around us through the what Sturken andCartwright call the ‘practice of looking’.•To look is an active process, an act which wechoose to engage with.•Both creating and interpreting visual material is apractice much like speaking or writing•A single image can have multiple meanings, andmean different things to different people.•Looking involves relationships of powe
  • 3. Who holds powerin this image?
  • 4. Representation“a presentation to the mind in the form of an idea orimage”wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn“Representation describes the signs that stand in forand take the place of something else.”en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representation_(arts)“Representation refers to the use of language andimages to create meaning about the world around us”Sturken and Cartwright
  • 5. RepresentationSystems of Representation have rules andconventions.enGlish (Lang:uage) h a s RUL:EStoexpressmeaningCinema uses conventions to convey meaning throughnarrative structure, mise en scene, cinematography,editing and soundDo systems of representation reflect the world as it isor do we construct the world and its meaning throughthe systems of representation we encounter and use?
  • 6. Representation•So are art works and photos simply aboutreplicating the world around us?•Do images exist in this inhert way or....•Do we derive meaning of the material world throughspecific cultural contexts, do images and systems ofrepresentation “organise, construct and mediate ourunderstanding of reality” rather than simply reflectthem. Do images reflect our values or do we reflectthe values portrayed in images?
  • 7. Representation•If the meaning of images is constructed and ourability to draw meaning is based on ourunderstanding of conventions of representation whatare the factors which influence our interpretation?ExperienceEducationSelf-interestEmotionsAesthetic preferences
  • 8. Look at the cubebelow cube fromCan you see thetwo different vantage points?Can you see them at thesame time?What do you have to changeto view them differently?What would you need toknow which is the correctversion of the cube?
  • 9. RepresentationWhat is the meaningof this imageHow does our ownbelief systeminfluence ourinterpretation?How does oureducation influenceour interpretation?
  • 10. Connotation,Denotation + MythJust as a word or sentencecan have connotationsbeyond its literal meaning,such as double entendres, sotoo can an image.The Denotative is what is shownThe Connotative is what isimplied
  • 11. Connotation,Denotation + MythArt historian Erwin Panofsky describes the denotation of arepresentational visual image as what all viewers from anyculture and at any time would recognize the image asdepicting.If the recognition is dependent on culturally specificknowledge then the sign is connotative. Connotationaccounts for socio-cultural and personal associations withwhat is being signified.
  • 12. Connotation,Denotation + MythWhat happens when the connotativeappears to be denotative?Roland Barthes used the term mythto to describe the portrayal ofculturally specific ideals as universal,ie connotative meaning of an imageappears to be denotative, or factualFor Barthes mythes serve theideological function of naturalization“Bourgeois ideology... turns cultureinto nature”
  • 13. Connotation,Denotation + MythWhere else do we see examples ofmyths?Propaganda?News?Advertising?Films?Magazines?
  • 14. The Camera never•Is a photograph an accurate representation oflies?reality?•Photography traditionally viewed as more objectivethan painting or a drawing partly due to itsdevelopment in Europe in the early 19th century inparallel with the emergence of positivism.•The very nature of photography is subjectivethrough the personal choice of the photographer interms of composition and framing
  • 15. The Camera neverlies?•Despite debate around how objective photographsare and the nature of the ‘truths’ they tell, they arestill used in court, the media etc as proof of an event.•The ‘myth of photographic truth’
  • 16. The Camera neverlies? Does this photograph by Alexander Gardner accurately represent the aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg
  • 17. The Camera neverlies? Has digital technology tarnished the credibility of photographs?
  • 18. Images and IdeologyIdeology- A collection ofideas, beliefs and valueswhich individuals orgroups use to define theirsocial needs.Ideology could includepolitical partiesOften effect everyday lifeand appear natural
  • 19. Images and IdeologyImages are producedwithin dynamics of socialpower and ideologyIdeologies are projectedthrough images bothexplicitly and implicitlySimilar to Barthes Myth,ideologies are constructedthough often promoted asnatural.
  • 20. Images and IdeologyPropaganda provides us with anexample of ideologies explicitlypromoted or discredited throughimagesAims to influence attitude orbehavior"Propaganda is the deliberate,systematic attempt to shapeperceptions, manipulatecognitions, and direct behavior toachieve a response that furthersthe desired intent of the
  • 21. Images and IdeologySometimes ideologies are portrayed through images moresubtly, what ideological assumptions are underlying in the imageabove?
  • 22. Negotiated meaningThe power of images is dependent on the cultural meaning thatthey invoke and the social, political and cultural contexts inwhich they are viewed.Meaning does not lie purely with the elements of the imagealone but are defined each time they are viewed, consumedand interpreted.
  • 23. Negotiated meaningCan an everyday objectbecome art because of thecontext in which it isshown?
  • 24. Cutting edge?Controversial?
  • 25. Negotiated meaningWhat do you thinkof this painting
  • 26. Negotiated meaningWhat do you thinkof this painting