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Analyzing Visual Culture

This presentation covers the basics for the Visual Literacy Method used in the Anthropology Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
by

Mitra Emad

on 21 March 2016

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Transcript of Analyzing Visual Culture

What medium or media was used to create the image?
Remember that the MEDIUM is
how the image reaches us
.

For example, if it is a photograph, which specific medium is it?
Aesthetic: museum-quality art
Information: daily newspaper
Documentary: recording social conditions
Commercial: advertising
Step 1: Observations
Cultural analysis suggests that we can decode meanings through
Active seeing
Critical thinking



What is
VISUAL LITERACY?
This is about
making meaning
Each Inference should directly correlate to your Analysis:
what Inferences do the
Structure
,
Frame
, and
Context
open up
?
What
cultural attitudes
are reflected?
How does
sequence
function?
If there is text or audio, how does
language
function?
What role do
symbols
play?
What
Themes
or
Ideas
can you infer?
Step 3: Inferences
What is the context?
What is the purpose of the image? What is it meant to accomplish?
Where and when was the image published or used?
Who is the author? What do we know about this person?
Who is the intended audience?
Analysis: Context
What are
the building blocks
of the image?
Rule of thirds (squint to see)
Is there a focal point?
Color?
Proximity: How is space used?
Contrast: Is one element made to stand out? How?
Analysis: Structure
What do your observations suggest?
Look at:

Structure
Frame
Context
Step 2: Analysis
List your OBSERVATIONS about the image:
What are its
elements
?
objects
figures (persons, animals)
writing
background
colors
individual images
etc.
Look at their
placement and relationship
to each other
what can you observe?
Remember that an observation is verifiable by anyone looking at this image.

Try not to make any inferences yet.
Step 1: Observations
Active seeing
requires three steps:

Making
observations
Developing an
analysis
Drawing
inferences
Tools for
VISUAL LITERACY
Active seeing:
to actively discern meaning in the world
like narrative, visual images involve relationships of
power
Someone is trying to: communicate, influence, or persuade
What is
VISUAL LITERACY?
The ability to decode the meaning delivered by visual texts
Stories and meanings can be found in visual texts.
Decoding: dominant, negotiated, oppositional meanings

How do we go about doing this?
What is
VISUAL LITERACY?

Analyzing Visual Culture

How is the image framed?
Sight lines that draw our focus?
Alignment? How does your eye move across the image?
The literal frame
(most important)
What is included?
What is left out?
What is the point of view?
Cast of characters?
What is the story of the image?
Analysis: Frame
Derives from Latin
imago
which means
an imitation or copy

Definition:
a thing that represents something else
What is an image?
Image 2
Image 3
Image 1
Image Gallery
Magritte's 1929 painting. Why would someone write "this is not a pipe" underneath a picture of a pipe?
It was not a pipe, and this is not a Hummer. What is it? (In other words: what is the "something else" that is represented here?)
What is
"critical thinking"
? You've been hearing about it for years.
How would you define it?
How do you know when you are doing it?
How do you know when you are
not
doing it?
"Active seeing"
is a method that enhances critical thinking. We will go through it today to learn how to be visually literate. Use
the Guide to Visual Literacy
to follow along and make notes.
Before we begin, a central idea in Cultural Anthroology is that we want to be aware of
power
and how it operates in our everyday environments.
C
o
l
o
r
Black
/
Grey
/
White
-> EMPHASIS
W
a
r
m
:
red
,
orange,

yellow
elicit an emotional response
C
o
o
l
:
blue
,
green
,
purple
elicit calm, often less emphasized
Full transcript