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Semiotics Nat Geo Covers

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  • “感慨无量!”。老子讲“授之以鱼,不若授之以渔。”谢谢您的照片和解说。
    Fantastic! thanks form the bottom of my heart.
    “Delegate to fish in the fishery as delegate” ---Lao tzu
    thanks for this great presentation,that teach me how and why to take the photos, by my heart.
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  • 1. Uncovering National Geographic MAGAZINE COVERS: 1980 - 2009 Devhuti Lakshmi Nitika Saikat Samyuktha Utsav Vasuta
  • 2. INTRODUCTION
    • Began in 1888, published by the National Geographic Society
    • Typical early subjects were geology, meteorology, oceanography, and history of exploration
    • 85% of the sales in the US
    • Strong emphasis on photography since the 60’s
    • The red shirt school of photography
      • Subjects wore overtly colourful clothes
  • 3. The Shock Doctrine
    • The cover image is intentionally stereotypical
      • “ National Geographic's pictures, with rare exception, were all pretty much of the picture postcard type of idealistic beauty, rather than photojournalism”
    • The cover story breaks the imagery and the story created by it
    • It attempts to de-cultivate the world view the west holds
    • The cover makes for a captive audience, and the story shocks the people out of their opinions
  • 4. NOVEMBER, 1983
    • tries to connect modern day photography with the ancient history of paintings.
    • painting of the Last Supper included in the cover involved Jesus blessing the bread and wine - serene scene.
    • the King James Version of Bible clearly says that The Last Supper was a night time feast however Leonardo set his stage during the day (Look outside the windows
  • 5.
    • Relation with the Story: This 1983 National Geographic article provides a brief history of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper, discussing damages done to the painting over the last 500 years. The most recent attempts at restoration of the famous mural began in 1977 and have provided clues to the changes it has undergone and new insights on Leonardo's techniques. This most recent restoration effort was completed in 1999.
    • Context: The last Supper is a 15 th century mural painting created by Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s basically a picture about the scene of The Last Suppers which is considered the last meal taken by Jesus when Jesus announces that one of his twelve apostles would betray him.
  • 6. JUNE, 1984
    • Taj Mahal at the back - stereotype of showing Taj Mahal as India’s identity
    • the caps, moustache and skin color clearly gives a portrait of an Indian
    • the model of train used in the picture also tries to connect Indian Railways to its history of British Raj.
  • 7.
    • Relation with the story: From Pakistan’s Kyber pass to Bangladesh, author Paul Therox and photographer Steve McCurry travel a monumental rail system where every day 10 million passengers ride 10000 trains to experience India Railway which is a lifeline for such a populated nation.
    • Context: The railway was one of the greatest imperial achievements of the British raj, and now, a larger system than ever in a subcontinent divided into sovereign nations, it still has the powerful atmosphere of empire about it. Its one of the major contributing factors of India’s prosperity as a nation since last 130 years.
  • 8.
    • large eyes, striking fear and terror at the same time
    • iconic image, came to represent Afghanistan for a long time
    • depiction of the country as a woman
    • the state of the “refugee”
    JUNE, 1985
  • 9.
    • the fallen statue
    • man on the statue, sitting on the chest
    • the dual meaning of the colour red
    • the expression of anger and contempt
    • trying to brush away a past
    NOVEMBER, 1990
  • 10. MARCH, 1991
    • taken at a time when there were military issues in Middle East
    • military balance of power after Persian Gulf war
    • peace talks & Madrid conference was going on
    • textual
      • battuta: Denoting iconic Middle East
    • visual:
      • conservative, orthodox women
      • expression of fear in her eye
      • glance showing insecurity
      • timid, submissive, Arabian women
      • suffocated by military conflicts
  • 11. SEPTEMBER, 1993
    • the author spent nearly 3 months travelling with tribal group, Rabari
    • camel, desert indicate signify the Great Indian Desert, Rajasthan, the native place of Rabaris. Slowly spread across states, but remained themselves.
    • their endurance, smooth life, women being treated as equal, well-bonded as society– all signs that they are progressive
    • at first glance, would seem the stereotypical way of showing India
    • but, the cover story breaks the myth—it doesn’t evoke sympathy but respect & admiration for the Rabaris
  • 12. MARCH, 1993
    • “ A Broken Empire,”
    • “ Statue made of Stone; symbolic of unrelenting hardships, inflexibility of communism ”
    • Statue is of a soldier/General signifying someone in power, maybe an autocrat.
    • “ Scarred/burnt face signifying fighting in a long war and possibly a crusade for freedom”
    • The Red blindfold implicates the shortsightedness or even the blind nature of these nations when they opted for a communist regime.
  • 13. JULY 1999
    • “ Iranian women yet to taste liberation”
    • “ Steeped in Tradition and yet hesitantly embracing modernity. The absence of a burkha, the exposed hands, use of colours and yet the face is largely covered.
    • “ Fearlessness and eye contact despite having been previously inhibited”
    • “ Iranian flag depicted through the use of the red colour”
    • “ Traditional dress belies Iran’s claim for modernity through the use of the backdrop”
  • 14. JANUARY 2000
    • “ Special Millennium Issue,”
    • “ Celebrations of Earth and Beyond...,”
    • “ Life Beyond Earth,”
    • “ Rediscovering America,”
    • “ Tibet Embraces the New Year,”
    • “ Enigma of Beauty,” and “Light in the Deep.”
  • 15.
    • The stars on the background resemble a bonanza of glitter and diamonds, echoing the theme of Celebration
    • The typography of “National Geographic” gives the feeling of motion and also speed.
    • It seems as though the letters are moving away from us to something beyond. Now that can signify
      • The cover story: Exploring outer space.
      • The millennium issue: Anticipating the future and what lies beyond the 20 th century.
  • 16.
    • Taken after the US led invasion of Afghanistan, the photographer searched for the girl and found her in 2002
    • Covers the following:
      • FOUND: After 17 Years An Afghan Refugee’s Story
      • Yucatan Cities Ancient Maya ruins stud Mexico’s hill country.
      • Maya Mural Researchers uncover a unique Maya wall painting.
      • Muskoxen Hunted nearly to extinction for their meat and coats, the “bearded ones” again thrive in the Arctic.
    APRIL, 2002
  • 17.  
  • 18.
    • The first picture was taken at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in 1984 by photographer Steve McCurry and was the cover photograph of Nat Geo June,1985. It soon became “the most recognized photograph in the world”
    • Picture #1: The girl seemed tough, curious, perplexed, somewhat intimidated and defiant.
    • Picture #2: As a woman, she seems more hostile, ravaged, violated, humiliated, defensive yet resigned.
    • The essential colour palette of the Picture #1 is quite similar to colours of the Afghanistan flag (Red, Green and Black). In the second picture, the lady is clad is blue with faint traces of red in her scarf as well (American Flag???).
    • In the main cover photograph, the figure in blue, with lettering in bold red and white echo the American Flag colours.
    • The blue figure seems to encompass the lone photograph from all sides, and seems to represent the struggle of the defiant yet overpowered Afghan surrounded by American forces.
  • 19.
    • “ human-like” face, caveman
    • looking straight at the reader
    • disfigured face, penetrating look – searching for something
    • story - life and extinction
    • “ The Other Humans”: the other race, the “other” (inferior)
    OCTOBER, 2008
  • 20.
    • adornment with gold
    • The True cost of a Global Obsession: extent of obsession, covering up every inch
    • closed eyes, subtle smile: satisfaction
    • hands: artificial, crafted by humans
    • striking contrast between the face of gold and the human hands : reference to those who use it and those who mine it
    JANUARY, 2009
  • 21. Over the years…
  • 22. 1888 - 1895 1896 - 1899 1900 1901 - 1903 1904 - 1909 1910 - 1920 1920 - 1959 1959 - 1962
  • 23. 1962
  • 24. 1979
  • 25. Evolution of Covers
    • Early issues were short, technical, and unattractive, with plain red-brown covers, conveying that it was an exploratory journal
    • As the scope of the magazine grew, the covers evolved
    • In the 20’s came about the ubiquitous yellow frame, which has been a mainstay since then
    • The advent of colour photography was the turning point, as then they chose it as their medium to talk to the world
  • 26.
    • four different views of the globe
    • covers the entire world
    • scientific
    NAT GEO LOGO
  • 27.
    • consistent for a 100 years, now a trademark
    • frame of a photograph
    • showing the world through the lens of a camera
      • reinforces the Nat Geo ideology of showcasing the “real” through a world of “surreal” and myths
    YELLOW FRAME
  • 28. SYNTAGM
      • distinctive yet plain yellow border
      • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC in bold white letters (Times New Roman Condensed), whatever be the background. The name is at times obscured by imagery
      • page is always clean, well organized images and text always in two columns
      • “ Formata Medium” font - subtle when small, pleasingly formed when large
  • 29. SYNTAGM
      • photographs depicting myth-shattering, revealing, and often radical realities which are not known by the world: always relevant to the times
      • usually, the image on the cover is a very stereotypical or rather unremarkable (frequently depressing). Yet the cover story pertaining to it carries a twist to the tale, often ending in a note of hope
      • unusually exotic, first-person narratives, stunning photos
      • people: close up of faces, use expressions to make an impact
  • 30. PARADIGM
    • range of topics covered: politics, social, science, history
    • analysing the same matter from different points of view
    • paradigms changed with the times, from an exploratory journal to a microcosm of the world
  • 31.
    • "To increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources."
  • 32. Thank You