Visual Analysis

Visual Analysis of Mediated Images Though a visual may be analysed in many ways, of late a convention has been established to study under Six major schools of thought. 1. The personal perspective deals with an emotional subjective opinion. ‘What do I think of the picture’. It’s the first response or first thought that crosses your mind on viewing the picture. It bears personal bias and prejudices. 2. The historical perspective helps to determine the importance of the work based on the time period that it was created in. ‘When was this created?

What was the social setup at that period of time? 3. The technical perspective tries to draw a relation b/w the medium and the message. ‘What medium has been used to create the message? How has the creator expressed himself through the medium chosen. 4. The ethical perspective looks at the moral and ethical responsibilities of the artist. ‘What are the moral responsibilities of the creator? Is his portrayal of the image ethical? 5. The cultural perspective relates the symbols used in the image to the society. ‘What symbols has the creator used?

What is the message conveyed by them? 6. The critical perspective is a rational conclusion that the viewer draws from the image. It is a personal reaction though free of bias and prejudice. ‘What have I concluded after critically analyzing the picture? How different was my first opinion from the second? Aim of Critical analysis: A producer of messages must have an understanding of the culture of the audience and use symbols that are comprehensible by them. It helps a viewer understand, interpret and appreciate art. List all the Objects and Elements

One must notice all the objects and elements in the picture and draw a distinction between the most important and the less important. The placements of elements gives a sense of movement within the picture hence the positioning of objects must be noted. Centre, left, right, top and bottom. Shadows and lighting suggest what part is in focus and give a sense of depth. The location helps in interpretation of the message. One must categorize the purpose as news, art, personal, or any other. The List • 4 girls • Water • Old building • Small boys • Road The Composition Placement of Objects Foreground: Girls in centre • Background: Water + Kids (left) playing • Background: Brightly lit Building on the right • Background: High contrast / Darker building behind the boys The girls in the centre are the subject of the picture. The water in the background seems to be coming from a nearby hose pipe or fire hydrant. The girls seem drenched in water. One can see small boys still playing in the water in the background. Study visual cues Shadows and lighting •Illuminated building on right hand side •Light source is in front of the girls at an angle above them •Building behind the boys is in shady region

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The light and shadow suggests its little after 15:00 hours. It sets the mood of summer and playful indulgence of kids by drenching themselves. There is a sense of innocence. Study visual cues… Colour •Objective- perception of colour & its characteristics •Comparative- association of colour with objects, events, emotions •Subjective- Every different colour has different associations in different cultures and societies. •The girls dark complexion. •The light shades worn suggests summer season. •The dark shades suggests old and shanty town. Form The triangle shape of the girls is a dynamic shape. ts base gives a sense of stability. They are also in a group and seem like a whole unit. The buildings give a sense of serenity and form the base for the girls that seem in front of it. ‘Eight’ depth Cues Many representational visual texts give a very strong feeling of depth despite the fact that they are painted on flat surfaces that lack any depth. In trying to depict depth, there are several restrictions on the techniques that an artist can use. First, most visual texts, like paintings, drawings, illustrations, and photographs, are two-dimensional.

There is no actual depth in the artwork so one must understand, at least intuitively, what information is in the environment that allow us to perceive depth. These sources of information are commonly called depth or distance cues. A consequence of the two-dimensional nature of painting and pictures is that we lose all the depth information that comes from the fact that we have two eyes. These binocular, or two-eye, depth cues require true depth and thus we will not discuss them in context with conventional visual texts. For example, there is the binocular depth cue called disparity.

Disparity arises from the fact that our two eyes have a slightly different view of the world. To allow you to see disparity requires either real depth or two images developed as if from different positions like our eyes. The artist, in trying to paint or draw, is, therefore, limited to depth cues that (a) need no more than one eye to work, and (b) do not require a moving world. Fortunately there are a collection of such depth cues, a subset of monocular cues called pictorial cues by some authors (Goldstein, 1989). 1. Interposition 2. Space 3. Size 4. Colour 5. Lighting 6. Textural gradient 7. Time 8.

Perspective 1. Interposition The first depth cue to be discussed here is interposition which is the partial blocking of a more distant object by a nearer object. Note how the the building is blocked by the girls. In fact, if you notice the kid behind the girls on your right is partially blocking the building too. But, it is the girls who land up blocking him too. Thus creating an illusion as to what is in the background and what is in the front. It is the interposition, overlap, that causes the sense of depth to arise. Usually the impression of depth caused by interposition alone is not very strong.

Notice the foreground figures of two girls with partially blocked figures of other two taking a piggy ride, which are all that are important for our present purposes. Here relative size and even relative height play little role in giving the depth order of the various figures (all the figures are roughly the same level and same size). Shadowing plays an important role in giving each of the figures their sense of three-dimensionality, but to tell who is in what position relative to another, the principle cue is interposition. 2. Space Space is the frame in which an image is located.

With a natural scene, the space depends on how close you are to the subject. Standing in an open field gives the feeling of a large amount of space and enhances the feeling of depth. If an object is close to the eyes, depth perception is limited. Distance is related to space and helps in our perception of depth. There is a lot of space behind the girls suggesting they are far from the buildings. The water is in the background and the wet girls suggest they had been in the water previously. 3. Size Size can help create the illusion of the depth perception if the viewer is aware of the object’s actual size.

A jumbo jet seen from a distance is a small bird sized object. If someone has no idea what the jumbo jets are, then the viewer does not react to this depth cue. Likewise, in this photograph we can guess average size (both height and size) and average size of two storied building in the backdrop we become aware of the depth (both in terms of space and distance) between the girls (foreground) and the building (background). Size, consequently, is closely related to our ability to determine an object’s distance. Distance is related to space and helps in our perception of depth. Size also is related to scale and mental attention.

Without knowing an object’s size, we have to view it next to an object of known size in order to determine its size. 4. Colour Correct interpretation of colour, and especially lighting cues, allows the beholder to determine the shape of objects, and thus their arrangement in space. The colour of distant objects is also shifted towards the blue end of the spectrum. (e. g. distant mountains. ) Painters, notably Cezanne, employ “warm” pigments (red, yellow and orange) to bring features forward towards the viewer, and “cool” ones (blue, violet, and blue-green) to indicate the part of a form that curves away from the picture plane.

High contrast pictures with great differences between light and dark tones seem closer than objects with more neutral tones colour. 5. Lighting The exact shape and description of the shadows changes depending on the direction of the light. There are certain general rules about shadows. First, in a place with only one source of light, e. g. outside, the shadows from all the objects in the area all go in the same direction. As a corollary of this rule, it is certainly true for all natural lights, and for most artificial lights, that the light comes from above to some degree.

We do not usually experience getting illuminated from the floor. Second, for a solid object sticking up the side of the object in shadow is the side away from the light but for a hole in the ground, the shadow is on the side near the light. Shadow can play a very powerful role in defining form by giving the object a three-dimensional feel as in the title to this page. In addition, artists can take good advantage of shadow to define form by highlighting how different portions of an object are at different depths and herefore the object closer to the light will cast a shadow on the more distant object. Shadow can play a broader role in defining depth between objects since objects that are in shadow must be farther from the light than objects that are not in shadow. Differences in light intensities can communicate depth. Carefully crafted lighting design provides subject’s separation from background. If brightness level of the back light is slightly higher than the lights in front then this separation is more distinct. However, no backlight has been used in this photograph.

Yet, the prevalence of shadows (largely in mid-space of the picture plane and the shows of the subject indicate subject’s volume and provides the viewer with reasonable illusion of depth perspective. 6. Textural gradient Related in a sense to relative size but a depth cue in its own right is what has been termed texture gradient. Most surfaces, such as walls and roads and a field of flowers in bloom, have a texture. As the surface gets farther away from us this texture gets finer and appears smoother (Gibson, 1950). A surface or field that recedes in depth has a texture that gets finer.

That is very different from a wall where the surface is approximately the same distance from a person at all points. For example, imagine yourself standing and staring at a brick wall which, instead of receding in depth like a cobblestone road, rises up in front of you. Here the texture, in this case the brick alternating with the mortar, will have about the same roughness all over the surface and provide a clue that the surface does not recede in depth. In addition, texture may play a role in helping us determine the size of an object.

Regardless of how far an object is away from us, it covers roughly the same amount of surface, and thus texture, which can help us determine the actual size of an object (Gibson, 1950). 7. Time Time and space are intricately related concepts that find expression in visual messages. In one sense, time as a depth cue refers to the first element a viewer sees in a frame. That picture will be in the foreground of the viewer’s mind, with other images seen later in the background. 8. Perspective It is a complex depth perception cue due to cultural factor which comes into play each time we try to interpret depth.

However, Perspective, in the context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes, or their dimensions and the position of the eye relative to the objects. As objects become more distant, they appear smaller, because their angular diameter (visual angle) decreases. Perspective is also seen in the way the parallel lines of how railway tracks appear to be meeting at a distant point (the vanishing point) on the horizon. When used in this sense, the ‘horizon’ is always at the level of the viewer’s eye.

Because the Earth is round, the true horizon (the line dividing the surface and the sky) is lower than this level. The difference is imperceptibly small when standing on the surface, but noticeable from great height (a person standing on a mountain can see further than someone at ground level). According to Evelyn Hatcher, there are three major forms of perspective which she details in her book Visual Metaphors: A Methodological Study in Visual Communication. These are as follows: Illusionary Perspective: An illusionary perspective can be achieved through size, colour, lighting, interposition, and linear perspective.

When you stand on a railroad track and look down the ties, the steel rails seem to converge into a single area, or vanishing point, in the distance. This trait of parallel lines when seen at a distance is called linear perspective. This aspect of illusionary perspective that provides the illusion of three dimensional depth in a painting or a photograph is what artists were trying to duplicate with the aid of Leonardo box and camera obscura. Geometrical Perspective: In geometrical perspective the artist shows near figures in the lower portion of the picture and objects farther away higher in the frame on a vertical line above the near object.

This type of perspective is common among traditional Japanese and Mayan artwork. Children often exhibit this type of perspective in their drawings. Conceptual Perspective: Conceptual perspective is compositional trait that relies on a more symbolic definition of depth perception than the other types of perspective. It can be divided into two types: multi-view and social. With the multi-view perspective, a viewer can see many different sides of an object at the same time. The picture is often an X-ray, or transparent, view of the object. Near objects overlap far objects only by the outside edges or lines that make up their shapes.

Pablo Picasso liked to use this type of perspective. In social perspective the most important person in a group picture, a government or corporate leader, is larger in size than other, less important people. A viewer often assumes power relationships because of social perspective. In a picture of a couple the man’s dominance over the woman often is signified by the man being nearer and larger in the frame with his hand resting on or arm wrapped around the woman’s shoulder. Over the past three decades, the feminist movement has made advertisers and others more sensitive to nonverbal negative stereotypes such as these. Depth 8’ Depth cues 1. Interposition 2. Space 3. Size 4. Colour 5. Lighting 6. Textural gradient 7. Time 8. Perspective Many representational visual texts give a very strong feeling of depth despite the fact that they are painted on flat surfaces that lack any depth. In trying to depict depth, there are several restrictions on the techniques that an artist can use. First, most visual texts, like paintings, drawings, illustrations, and photographs, are two-dimensional. There is no actual depth in the artwork so one must understand, at least intuitively, what information is in the environment that allow us to perceive depth.

These sources of information are commonly called depth or distance cues. A consequence of the two-dimensional nature of painting and pictures is that we lose all the depth information that comes from the fact that we have two eyes. These binocular, or two-eye, depth cues require true depth and thus we will not discuss them in context with conventional visual texts. For example, there is the binocular depth cue called disparity. Disparity arises from the fact that our two eyes have a slightly different view of the world.

To allow you to see disparity requires either real depth or two images developed as if from different positions like our eyes. The artist, in trying to paint or draw, is, therefore, limited to depth cues that (a) need no more than one eye to work, and (b) do not require a moving world. Fortunately there are a collection of such depth cues, a subset of monocular cues called pictorial cues by some authors (Goldstein, 1989). The first depth cue to be discussed here is interposition which is the partial blocking of a more distant object by a nearer object. Note how the the building is blocked by the girls.

Infact, if you notice the kid behind the girls on your right is partially blocking the building too. But, it is the girls who land up blocking him too. Thus creating an illusion as to what is in the background and what is in the front. It is the interposition, overlap, that causes the sense of depth to arise. Usually the impression of depth caused by interposition alone is not very strong. Notice the foreground figures of two girls with partially blocked figures of other two taking a piggy ride, which are all that are important for our present purposes.

Here relative size and even relative height play little role in giving the depth order of the various figures (all the figures are roughly the same level and same size). Shadowing plays an important role in giving each of the figures their sense of three-dimensionality, but to tell who is in what position relative to another, the principle cue is interposition. There is a lot of space behind the girls suggesting they are far from the buildings. The water is in the background and the wet girls suggest they had been in the water previously. Movement •The girls have moved fro near the water to the position they are in now.

Where was the picture made? What do u think was its purpose? * The picture seems to be clicked in some Afro-American suburb. * It could have been taken to accompany a feature article on the summer heat. Personal Perspective * What do I think of the visual? * Omniphasism “All in Balance” * Rick Williams philosopher, photographer ; educator at the University of Oregon * Theory that combines the rational and intuitive aspects of the mind. Omniphasism was thought of by Rick Williams, a philosopher, photographer, and educator at the University of Oregon develop the theory Omniphasism.

It’s a theory that attempts to combine the rational and intuitive aspects of the mind into a balanced whole. William uses 8 steps for analyzing a visual message, using his Omniphasism tech called a “personal Impact Assessment” What is my first emotional response to the visual? Do I like it? Dislike it? How do I feel about the image? Its a picture of teenage girls who have just played in water. It’s pleasant to look at. Personal Impact Assessment “Part of the idea of going from primary words to associative words to significant words is to move away from Literal interpretation of the photo to a symbolic understanding of it. ~ Rich Williams Personal Impact Assessment 8 Steps: 1. Take time with the image 2. List Primary Words 3. List associative words 4. Select the most important associative words 5. Pair primary and associative words 6. Relate each pair to yourself 7. Review your inner symbolism 8. Write a story Take time with the Image * Does the story Stimulate or Alienate? Its an isolated moment that rests on composition. * What is the story or message? Some girls played in the water to beat the heat. List Primary Words * Visual Cues * Objects * Feelings Primary words * Group of 4 girls * Water * Sun Old buildings * Light shade clothes List Associative Words Observe each primary word and link it to your thought. One must write down all words that come to ones mind on reading each of the primary words. Associative words * Group of 4 girls : happy, wet, Afro American * Water: Hose pipe, Fire hydrant * Sun: Summer, heat, daytime * Old buildings: poor neighbourhood * Happy : cool, relaxed Select the most important associative words Among the associative words one word would be closest to its primary word underline or select that word. This is the most important associative word.

Choose one word out of the associative words for each primary word. Pair Primary and Associative words Write the primary and most important associative word together. * Group of 4 girls : Afro American * Water: Fire hydrant * Sun: Summer-heat * Old buildings: poor neighbourhood * Happy : cool Relate each pair to Yourself Make note of the thoughts that come to your mind on viewing each pair of words. What does each pair suggest? * Group of 4 girls : Afro american poor * Water: Fire hydrant wet, sultry * Sun: Summer-heat scorcher * Old buildings: poor neighborhood unaffordability of luxury * Happy  cool relief Review your Inner Symbolism See if the conclusions drawn from the pairs link to any conflict, event, emotion, value or feeling. * List inner conflicts, emotions, values or feelings The summer heat is hard to bear . Water is natures boon to mankind Write a story Add up all your thoughts and write a summary or a story. What is the story in the image? A group of Afro-American girls decide to cool of in the summer heat by playing with some water from a fire hydrant. Historical Perspective * When do you think was the image made? In the 1980’s or after. Is there a specific style that the image imitates? The historical perspective helps to understand current trends in terms of their roots in technology and philosophies of the past. Where did the image come from? What was the setup at that time? What is the background of the image? these questions help us to infer meanings. Technical Perspective One can evaluate the production techniques. Has the producer used the technology at hand to its best in generating the message? Has it aided in delivering the message as intended effectively. * What medium has been used? film * What techniques were employed?

A street shot clicked without the subject noticing it been taken * How was it produced? With an SLR camera * Is it of good quality? yes (look at grain size, gama, composition, content, shutter speed etc. ) Ethical Perspective This is the moral and ethical analysis of the visual. It applies to both the viewer and the producer of the visual. Categorical Imperative * Immanuel Kant, German philosopher from the east principality of KOnisberg 18th Century * Categorical (unconditional / without exception) * “Right is Right” * Do your duty The right thing must be done under even the most extreme conditions.

Once a rule is established for a proposed action or idea, behavior and actions must be consistently applied and always in accordance with it. One does his/ her duty. In the ethics of the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, founder of critical philosophy, a moral law that is unconditional or absolute for all agents, the validity or claim of which does not depend on any ulterior motive or end. “Thou shalt not steal,” for example, is categorical as distinct from the hypothetical imperatives associated with desire, such as “Do not steal if you want to be popular. For Kant there was only one such categorical imperative, which he formulated in various ways. “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” is a purely formal or logical statement and expresses the condition of the rationality of conduct rather than that of its morality, which is expressed in another Kantian formula: “So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in another, always as an end, and never as only a means. ” Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham ; John Stuart Mill (British Philosophers) * Belief: “The greatest good for the greatest number of people” * Analysis of the consequence : Outcome must do good to most people In ethics, a tradition stemming from the late 18th- and 19th-century English philosophers and economists Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill that an action is right if it tends to promote happiness and wrong if it tends to produce the reverse of happiness—not just the happiness of the performer of the action but also that of everyone affected by it.

Utilitarianism is an effort to provide an answer to the practical question “What ought a man to do? ” Its answer is that he ought to act so as to produce the best consequences possible. Eg: A gruesome image must be published or printed only if it would evoke a positive reaction in maximum of the viewers. Hedonism Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is of ultimate importance, the most important pursuit. The name derives from the Greek word for “delight”. * A student of Socrates, Aristippus founded this ethical philosophy on the basis of pleasure. Aristippus believed that people should “act to maximize pleasure” now and not worry about the future. * He referred to intellectual pleasure not physical. * Pleasures of the mind * “I Possess I am not Possessed” * Aesthetic pleasure that we get out of a picture Golden Mean (Finding a compromise b/w the two extreme points of an action or view. In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. To the Greek mentality, it was an attribute of beauty.

Both ancients and moderns realized that “there is a close association in mathematics between beauty and truth”. The poet John Keats, in his Ode on a Grecian Urn, put it this way: Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. The Greeks believed there to be three concomitants of beauty: symmetry, proportion, and harmony. This triad of principles infused their life. They were very much attuned to beauty as an object of love and something that was to be imitated and reproduced in their lives, architecture, Paideia and politics.

They judged life by this mentality. Golden Rule * “Love your neighbor as yourself” * Be humane do not harm others by your actions The Golden Rule which stems from ethic of reciprocity is a fundamental moral value which “refers to the balance in an interactive system such that each party has both rights and duties, and the subordinate norm of complementarity states that one’s rights are the other’s obligation. ” In essence, it is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others.

Reciprocity is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, though it is not without its critics. Many assign the imperative commandment of Golden Rule as instruction for a positive only form of reciprocity. A key element of the golden rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group with consideration. The golden rule, with roots in a wide range of world cultures, is well suited to be a standard to which different cultures could appeal in resolving conflicts.

Principal philosophers and religious figures have stated it in different ways. Veil of Ignorance John Rawls (1971) “Put the shoe on the other foot. * All people are equal * Eliminating all prejudice and discrimination The original position is a hypothetical situation developed by American philosopher John Rawls as a thought experiment to replace the imagery of a savage state of nature of prior political philosophers like Thomas Hobbes. In social contract theory, persons in the state of nature agree to the provisions of a contract that defines the basic rights and duties of citizens in a civil society.

In Rawls’s theory, Justice as Fairness, the original position plays the role that the state of nature does in the classical social contract tradition of Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and John Locke. The original position figures prominently in his book, A Theory of Justice, and it is one of the most influential ideas in twentieth-century philosophy. It has influenced a variety of thinkers from a broad spectrum of philosophical orientations.

As a thought experiment, the original position is a hypothetical designed to accurately reflect what principles of justice would be manifest in a society premised on free and fair cooperation between citizens, including respect for liberty, and an interest in reciprocity. Questions to be asked while analysing a visual from Ethical / Moral Perspective… as per Dr Demi Elliot Poynter Jamison, chair, Media Ethics & Press Policy at the University of South Florida at St. Petersberg. 1. Does the taking and displaying of the picture fit the social responsibility of the professional involved? 2.

Has any ones rights been violated in taking and displaying the picture? 3. Does the display of the image meet the needs of the viewer? 4. Is the picture aesthetically appealing? 5. Does the picture choice reflect moderation? 6. Does the professional choice reflect empathy for the subjects experience? 7. Could a professional justify the choice if he/she didn’t know which of the parties (subject, shooter or viewer) he/ she would turn out to be? 8. Does the visual Image cause unjustified harm Cultural Perspective * Identify the Symbols used, and * Determine their Meaning for the society as a whole. What is the story and the symbolism involved with the elements in the visual message? * What do they say about current cultural values? (It is related to the semiotic process) The story revolves around the Afro-American people in the United States of America. Historically, the country has been dominated by a settler society of religiously and ethnically diverse Whites. The heaviest burdens of racism in the country have fallen upon Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans and some other immigrant groups and their descendants.

Major racially structured institutions include slavery, Indian reservations, segregation, residential schools (for Native Americans), and internment camps. Racial stratification has occurred in employment, housing, education and government. Formal racial discrimination was largely banned in the mid-20th century, and it came to be perceived as socially unacceptable and/or morally repugnant as well, yet racial politics remain a major phenomenon as witnessed during the 44th Presidential Elections. Racist attitudes, or prejudice, are still held by moderate portions of the U. S population.

Members of every American ethnic group have perceived racism in their dealings with other groups. Critical Perspective An analysis of a visual to arrive at a ‘Rational’, ‘Objective’ and ‘Thoughtful’ Conclusion. What is my final opinion about the picture? How does my current view differ from the previous? Conclusion “Analysis is ego-driven. The main thing is that it always reveals the person making the analysis — not really the piece itself? ~ David Lodge It’s a cyclic process. You will find below four images. You may undertake a visual analysis, based on what you have learnt so far:

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