This page is dedicated to my Illustrations created for Visual Communication class. Each week we are charged with taking or composing a photograph that we believe best illustrates a key concept from one or more readings for each week. Thus far, all photography has been original work; however, I’ll admit, some photographs are better than others. In some cases, the composition of the photograph fell short for the purposes of best illustrating the concept. As I am certainly not an expert and my photography background is more journalistic than artistic but I hope you enjoy!
“Personal Narrative of ‘Personal’ Memorials”
This photograph is of a memorial for my grandfather. This memorial is different than many of the memorials illustrated by my classmates which are traditional stone with engravings and with statues. However, I believe that though there are no engravings or statues, this memorial is still extremely powerful. According to Hess in, In digital remembrance: vernacular memory and the rhetorical construction of web memorials, “the use of personal narrative is a common tributary strategy of those who mourn the loss of loved ones, whether in digital form or on site,” (p. 823). Thus, this memorial, is very personal in the sense that it was created for an individual not known by many outside of my small town; however, I will explain why this is, still in fact a memorial despite the fact that it is not meant for thousands of visitors to visit. You may recall an earlier illustration of mine that featured an image of my grandfather’s grave site. My grandfather, who passed almost two years ago now, was a much beloved member of the small town of Nunda, NY. Anyone who knew my grandfather, and there are many in the area, will recall that he was a hard-worker who loved to be outside, working the land. For the better part of fifty years, my grandfather founded and assisted in the growth and development of two lovely golf courses in my town, one of which is still run by my family today. He is most remembered as chugging along on the golf course on his favorite tractor, a bright red Farmall. The boulder, bench and the wind sock representation of his favorite tractor all comprise a memorial put together by the members of our golf course as a place where they can go to remember my “Papa” at his “favorite hole.” He is buried just off of the golf course and next to his favorite hole, number twelve, which overlooks a beautiful view of hills and the valley. Thus, as Hess asserts, by taking our personal memories of my grandfather’s life and finding visual and physical representations of things that remind us of him, we create a memorial that is highly personal as a means to commemorate his life.
As mentioned earlier, this memorial is different in the sense that there is no stone and no plaques. In a sense, though the memorial is located on a public golf course, those who are not members of the Nunda community may not recognize that the area is, in fact a memorial. Interestingly, my grandfather’s memorial is one of three that are on my family’s golf course and what is even more interesting is that those two memorials both have plaques to commemorate the individuals while my grandfather’s memorial does not have a plaque and probably never will. What Hess’ whole point about personal memorials is saying is that for those who mourn and remember lost loved ones, “obvious” artifacts that are attributed to memorials are not necessarily needed because the memorials are, in fact personal. Since they are personal, we remember based on the visual rhetoric of the artifacts themselves and not based on a sign or plaque explaining what or who is being remembered.
“Sports Photography and Transparency”
My illustration shows a basic concept discussed in the Smith & Price article. They discuss how photography transparency theory indicates that good photojournalism captures a moment in time in such a way that viewers feel that they have stepped in to the time and place where the photograph was taken (127). Though the article was referencing breaking news stories, I believe that it also applies to sports photography. I recently took these pictures at my brother-in-law’s high school basketball scrimmage so that my husband who is deployed overseas could see his brother play. While this is not exactly photojournalism in a professional sense, I was acting as a photojournalist for my husband-with the intent to capture some significant moments in the game so that he could feel like he did not miss out completely. I admit, I am not the best photographer in the world, but this particular photograph does capture an action moment in the game.
“Personal Exhibitions Create Identity”
For this post, I have included an image of a wall collage I recently created. Though I realize that the collection of photographs that are laminated and placed strategically on my wall are not, by any means, worthy of a national museum at this point in time. However, I was struck by the Dickinson et. al. reading which explained in detail the rhetorical, story-telling power of collecting, exhibiting, and representing artifacts. Just as museum curators collect certain photographs and artifacts to display in a specific location and in a specific way in the museum to tell a story, I also deliberately chose certain photographs for display so that I could tell the story of my life over the past three to four years. The photographs indicate adventures I have had in addition to capturing moments in my life that I wish to remember fondly and further share with others. This is, arguably, what is done in museums. Not all museums intend to remember fond memories; however, the key is that whatever is displayed is intentionally done so to convey meaning and in some cases memory. I guess what I am trying to say, is that we construct our own identities that we wish to convey to the public due in part to the artifacts from our lives we choose to display.
Okay, so I took a slight departure from the readings for this one…but I will explain. I assisted with putting together the presentation for the undergraduate class surrounding Helmer’s concept of “Picturing Place.” We were given an excellent article titled, “Rhetorical Spaces in Memorial Places: The Cemetery as a Rhetorical Space/Place,” the citation is at the end of this post. I was extremely fascinated with the concept that images invoke memory, as Wright, the author of the article points out. However, when we encounter this idea of a space that is “normal” or something we are accustomed to, like seeing a cemetery and the image of a headstone, as simply that- just a headstone. For the most part, we may pay little attention to the detail such as the name, and in many cases, we simply ignore the true meaning behind the image of the headstone.Therefore, we forget that each and every cemetery is more than a collective unit of “remembering those who died.” She explains that it is only when specific factors of the image or space make an impression on the viewer that we as individuals take the time to remember the person who is commemorated by the headstone or memorial.
What I am trying to illustrate with this photograph is the idea that, arguably, the everyone in the class accept me, this headstone will invoke one of two types of memory: the first is the generalized “oh its a headstone and it is associated with where people are buried, etc.” and second, individuals may bring personal memory to their interpretation of this image based on prior experience. We know from reading Helmer’s that our prior experiences often dictate how we interpret images in front of us. However, the point that Wright is trying to make is that I will be the only one to truly associate this image with what it was meant to commemorate: my grandfather. Wright argues that only those who take time to learn the “story behind the stone” or those who inherently know what the stone truly represents will be able to interpret it as it was intended. Due to her concept of Cemeteries of Rhetorical Space; however, we as a collective viewer each are able to bring our own personal interpretation to the image due to prior experience both with cemeteries in general and possibly with more personal experiences.
Wright, Elizabethada. (2005). Rhetorical Spaces in Memorial Places: The Cemetery as a Rhetorical Memory Space/Place. Rhetorical Society Quarterly. 35 (4), 51-81.
“Three Decades of Disney World Logos”
The concept I am trying to illustrate with this photo comes from the optional Cowin and Matusitz reading. Though I can’t prove anything, I wanted to demonstrate that an analysis similar to what Cowin and Matusitz’s could be conducted when examining the evolution of Disney World’s logos shown here. These logos where snatched from various family souvenirs from visits dating back to the 80s. Thus, in this one photograph, we see the change from the logo from the early 80s (pictured in the magnet with Tinkerbell) to the logo from the 90s (the tag with yellow, block lettering) and the current logos which debuted in the early 2000s seen on the sweatshirt, pillow, and on the tag of a stuffed animal. I am highly intrigued by logos and would be interested in conducting an analysis of Disney logos (or a company with similar global reach and lasting communicated values that have not altered dramatically since inception). The most important similarity is the endurance of both the McDonald’s brand and the Disney brand over time. The Cowin article points out that despite the changes and variations in the logos, McDonald’s as a company remained fairly constant in the overall intended message of their logo over time. Arguably, these Disney logos demonstrate the same idea, the idea that the variations in the logo “is intended for effect, to break through the clutter, and to invoke the change in settings in which it is displayed.” Thus, the message remains, essentially the same, yet the logo changes to fit the medium, or the time, or whatever circumstance so that new and old audiences can continue to build recognition.
“An American Flag: More than it seems”
In Finn’s discussion of images and their meaning within the concepts of structuralism, Finn mentioned Barthes work regarding a singular image as having “both denotative and connotative levels of meaning,” (p. xiii). The image shown here can be deconstructed to explain specifically how images can dually posses both qualities. This image is denotative in the sense that most all viewers of the image can deduce that this is an image of flowers and landscape and includes a flag, regardless of the flag’s association with a particular country. Additionally, the image holds connotative meaning that is best illustrated due to the presence of the American flag. In the most basic of terms, the American flag symbolizes a wide range of things including freedom, hope, and the American dream; additionally, it is well-known in our culture that the flag is used to commemorate loved ones or to simply show patriotism. Thus the image itself , and most images, can be viewed and deconstructed in literal terms or it can be expanded to hold a more broad and deeper meaning for the potential audience of the image based on symbols present in the image. Note that our concept of a “symbol” such as the American flag does not have to be used to illustrate this. A symbol can be virtually anything.