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Visual analysis for composition


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This presentation was created to instruct English Composition students in writing in response to Visual Analysis assignments.

Published in: Education, Business, Technology

Visual analysis for composition

  1. 1. This presentation outlines and illustrates the language and process of visual analysis as discussed in the Composition textbook Frames of Mind.
  2. 2. FICTIONAL TEXTS plot characters setting point of view style, tone, language symbolism theme VISUAL TEXTS focal point figure-ground contrast proximity, similarity color continuation line closure story context Just as there are terms that allow us to refer to precise elements of a literary text, there are terms that allow us to discuss individual elements of a visual text such as a photograph or painting.
  3. 3. the central figure the point where your eyes immediately go when you first view the image the point on which your eyes focus the object of emphasis Consider the image on the next slide of this presentation. What is the focal point?
  4. 4. Tropicana Juice ad: Bread by Downtown Partners, 2007
  5. 5. the difference between what’s in front and what’s in back the foreground and the background the figure and the background Think about the previous image of the orange juice ad. The focal point was in sharp contrast to the mostly blank, white background. Consider a more complex image, the photograph that follows. First, identify the focal point. Next, consider the background. How does the background contrast with the focal point?
  6. 6. Photograph by Bruce Davidson
  7. 7. 7 The group of three people in the front of the image is the focal point. Some differences between the focal point and the background are that the individuals in the foreground are posing while those in the background are not. The focal point figures are in focus while the background figures are not. What is happening in the background is spontaneous and natural; what is happening in the foreground is staged to convey an attitude and a message.
  8. 8. Consider the figure-ground contrast in the following images: Photograph by Bruce Davidson
  9. 9. Photograph by Constantine Manos
  10. 10. Proximity  how objects are related in space  different groups created by spatial arrangement Similarity  How objects are related in size, color, shape, etc.  Different groups created by similar features
  11. 11. What is the focal point? Consider figure-ground contrast. How is proximity used in this photo to convey distance? Photograph by Bruce Davidson
  12. 12. evokes emotional response the brighter, the more powerful can focus our attention can create contrast can communicate nuances of meaning
  13. 13. Consider all of the elements covered thus far: focal point, figure-ground contrast, similarity, proximity, and color: Photograph by Constantine Manos, New Orleans 2002
  14. 14. Notice how this ad uses similar colors rather than contrasting ones to create unity. 2007 Print ad for Sean Jean Unforgivable Woman fragrance.
  15. 15. The continued visual line suggested by the elements in the image Follow the line of continuation in the following images, starting with the focal point.
  16. 16. 1942 American War Bonds Ad/Poster
  17. 17. Photograph by Bruce Davidson
  18. 18. Provide a sense of motion or movement Create edges and outline objects Convey mood  Horizontal = calm, equilibrium  Vertical = movement  Diagonal = stress  Wavy = change, grace Notice the lines in the following photographs:
  19. 19. Photograph by Bruce Davidson
  20. 20. Earth from Above photographed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
  21. 21. the human tendency to complete figures or fill in missing information
  22. 22. How does these ads illustrate closure? 2006
  23. 23. the narrative suggested by the image Consider the following images. What story is communicated by each? Also go back to previous images and consider the story the ad or the photographer is trying to convey through the image. What is the message of those three journalists? What is the meaning of the Unforgivable Woman ad? What statement is the photographer making with the image of the bride and groom pictured with industrial smoke-stacks in the background?
  24. 24. Photograph by Bruce Davidson What story does this photograph communicate? What is the significance of the Davidson’s decision to photograph the boys out of focus? How does this add to or relate to the story?
  25. 25. Photograph by Bruce Davidson Consider the role that light and shadow play in communicating this story.
  26. 26. background information that enhances understanding includes the title of the image, if there is one, the creator of the image, the date, the location, as well as details about or from the artist or photographer that contribute to our understanding of the image
  27. 27. Context: This photograph was taken in Central Park in the 1990’s. Photograph by Bruce Davidson
  28. 28. This painting from the 1600’s is called Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. Icarus is a figure from mythology who ignored his father’s advice and flew with his wax wings too close to the sun, causing them to melt, which resulted in his falling from the sky into the sea, drowning. If you follow the focal point of the farmer’s red shirt around the painting, your eyes will eventually come to the flailing legs at the bottom right of the painting, unnoticed by the other figures featured in the painting. Knowing the context is often the key to grasping the meaning. (Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, painted around 1558, attributed to Pieter Bruegle the Elder)
  29. 29. In 1958, Bruce Davidson shot a series of photographs of the performances and backstage life of this three-ring circus performer. The collection of photographs is titled Circus.
  30. 30. Photographs by Bruce Davidson
  31. 31. This photograph was taken by Bruce Davidson in May of 1961 in Alabama.
  32. 32. 33 Analyze the Image: Identify the focal point. Explain the figure-ground contrast. Note the significance of proximity and similarity. Describe the use of color and its effect. Narrate the line of continuation from the focal point through the rest of the image. Describe lines in the image and explain their effects. Does the image feature closure? What is the context of the image? Who created the image? When? Where? Does it have a title? How does the context add to or reveal the meaning? What is the central message communicated by the image? What story does the image tell?
  33. 33. 34 Responding to a Visual Analysis Writing Assignment: Begin by studying the image. Answer each of the questions from the following slide in as much detail as possible. Focus the analysis on the elements that are the most prominent in the image, that contribute most to the story it communicates. Follow the steps of the writing process and attend to the specific requirements of the assignment you have been given. Clearly attribute the image to its author. Cite the image following the text of your paper. 34
  34. 34. 35 Examples Example of attribution in the text of a visual analysis essay: Example of MLA citation: In one photograph titled Dwarf, taken in 1958, Bruce Davidson captures a circus clown, apparently alone and despondent, as he sits at a diner next to a crowded table of laughing customers, at a table decorated with wilting roses, with a simple sandwich on a plate in front of him. Works Cited Davidson, Bruce. Dwarf. The Circus. 1958.