Choose a day that you can spend out and about looking with no particular agenda. Be conscious of how images and texts are presented to you in the real world – on billboards, in magazines and newspapers, and online, for example. Make notes in your learning log on some specific examples and reflect upon what impact the text has on how you read the overall message.
- Does the text close the image down (i.e. inform or direct your reading) or open it up (i.e. allow for your personal interpretation to play a part in creating the final meaning)?
- What do you think was the intention of the creator in each instance?
As I was looking through the (Porter) magazine, I came across this advertisement for diamonds Jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels:
These are only three out of other images for the same advertisement. The other images show the model naked wearing nothing but a necklace and another of her in bed or the bathtub half-naked. To me the advertisement portrayed the woman as a sex object since the term (sex sells) is used widely nowadays. The men would see those models in such advertisements as decorative and sex objects and will be willing to spend the money on those jewelry while the women would feel the importance of owning these diamonds in order to attract the other sex or to feel sexy and desirable.
Roland Barthes calls these photographs pornographic photographs and describes them as a naive photograph without intention and without calculation. The images show one piece of jewelry that is presented by sex and only that!
On the other hand, I came across another advertisement of Cartier another famous jewelry brand:
The advertisement still use the woman but in a more modest way. We are here more able to look at the jewelry clearly and connect it with the model as (diamond is woman’s best friend). There is no real linguistic message associated with this image, other than the caption Cartier (name of brand) and Diamond collection.
Looking through the internet, I found this advertisement about animal anti-cruelty league. At first I couldn’t tell it was a dog but after reading the text or caption on the image; I figured that out. The symbolic idea the image represents is that the dog is not a soccer ball to be kicked (abused). The caption on the image complements the idea of animal abuse. The viewer here tries to figure out the main idea from the image at the beginning and then the text comes to support it and explain it. The accompanying text is a parasitical message which illustrates the picture. I found the advertisement quite powerful.
Another advertisement caught my attention online was the one about owning a gun in America. The image is quite powerful by its own but it keeps you wondering about the main idea behind the advertisement. The written commentary associated with the photo illustrates the picture.
Here the text supports the image and overcomes it. The text in white font with black outline suggests mystery, you read the caption and wonder. The white font suggests the purity in thinking at the beginning as you think ok of course the gun is the answer but the black outline gives you that mystery of “is it?” then the white font turns to red to signify aggressiveness and boldness and gives you that feeling of a faster heartbeat that commands your attention. The answer then comes in a small size font text below the image giving us the answer. The smaller font below the image connects the larger words above the image saying something else. The idea is to make us read two different thoughts by looking at one being more mysterious and the other bold and truthful.
Bibliography / References:
Barthes, R. (2008) Camera Lucida. TATE Publishing: London.
Barthes, R. Rhetoric of the Image [online]. Available from: https://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Barthes-Rhetoric-of-the-image-ex.pdf [Accessed 17, February 2017].