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Visual Rhetoric

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Molly Storment

on 15 March 2011

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Transcript of Visual Rhetoric

Visual Rhetoric What is visual rhetoric? Definition: Object of Study Art and Architecture Photography weaknesses Methods Birdsell and Groarke Immediate visual context: Both image sequence and visual cues in ambient message environment
Immediate verbal context: Words establish separate context of meaning; allows image to provide opposite, yet extremely specific
Visual culture: Artistic, scientific and technological advances promote alternate ways of “seeing”; reflects “different values, conditions of production and habits of interpretation” All theories MUST:
Identify internal elements of a visual image
Understand context in which image is interpreted
Create consistent and agreed-on interpretation of visual
Chart changes in visual perspectives chronologically 5 Functions of
Visual Images Flags Demonstrations Metaphors Symbols Archetypes Countering Visual Arguments
with Visual Argument Lake and Pickering, ”Argumentation, the Visual and the Possibility of Refutation” Dissection: Image is “broken down”,
with parts identified and relationships analyzed
in this state, possible to analyze via
verbal/written means Substitution: Image is “replaced” within a
larger frame with another, oppositely-aligned image Transformation: Image is “recontextualized
within a new visual frame”, altering or reversing
its original intent "A Rhetorical Schema for the Evaluation of Visual Imagery"
Sonja Foss 1. Identify the function of the image.
Function does not equal purpose
2. Assess how well the function is communicated.
The connection between the function and means
3. Scrutinize the function itself. Benefits:
Resists the hasty judgment of visual artifacts as without worth
disrupts the distinctions between “high” and “low” art
it is a method available to rhetors who lack training in aesthetics
allows for a more positive view of visuals as rhetoric Fleming, "Can Pictures Be Arguments?"
1. No internal differentiation
2. Picture can’t be opposed
3. Pictures lack linear progression of verbal/written arguments

Blair, “The Possibility and Actuality of Visual Arguments”
4.Visual rhetoric seen as 1-D; reflects only one side without examining opposing arguments and their merits/deficiencies
5. Visual rhetoric states, rather than argues
6. Visual media’s influence is “unconscious identifications” made, but have significant issues with interpretation, need to become verbal/written for analysis/critique strengths 1. Recognizes the fact that in a post-modern society, “the visual is quickly coming to displace [not replace] the linguistic in social importance” (Ott and Dickinson, 2009, p392). Just as Gutenberg’s press “heralded” modernity, so too has digitial media led to a “(re)orienting of our sense of ourselves and our world...shap[ing] both what we think and how we think” (Ott and Dickinson, 2009, p392).

2. “The study of visual imagery from a rhetorical perspective may make contributions beyond providing a richer and more comprehensive understanding of rhetorical processes. In some cases such study may contribute to the formulation or reconceptualization of aesthetic notions that unnecessarily restrict definitions of, and approaches to, visual phenomena” (Foss, 1994, “A Rhetorical Schema,” p213).

3. Visual rhetoric exposes the "photographic ideology" of the public
a consideration of the naturalistic enthymeme will help “develop a more nuanced understanding of how visual images are mobilized as inventional resources for public debate” (Finnegan, "Naturalistic Enthymeme," 148). Visual artifacts “can function
rhetorically to invoke a collective
sense of civic and cultural
understanding” (Zagacki and
Gallagher, 2009, “Rhetoric,” p172). “The visual image is a form of
rhetoric, a view congruent with
Burke's view of symbolicity
as encompassing not only talk,
but 'all other human symbol
systems, such as mathematics,
music, sculpture, painting, dance,
architectural styles, and so on'
(Burke, 1966, p. 28)” (Foss, 328) “Iconic photographs are calls to
civic action, sites of controversy,
vehicles for ideological control, and
sources of rhetorical invention”
(H&L, "Accidental Napalm", 54).

“Picture-viewing is another form
of tacit experience that can be used
to connect people: all seem to see
the same thing, yet the full meaning
of the image remains unarticulated”
(Hariman and Lucaites, “Accidental Napalm” 36). Three Approaches One group of scholars applies “the tools of public address scholarship to evaluate the civic role of public images” (Ott and Dickinson, 393).
Key players in this group include Foss, Hariman, Lucaites, DeLuca, Olson, and Finnegan (394).
This group is most closely aligned with traditional approaches to rhetorical criticism. A second group of scholars utilize “theories of everyday life to explore the visual framing of everydayness” (Ott and Dickinson, 393). A third group seeks to “identify the unique logic fostered by visual imagery” (Ott and Dickinson, 393) "rhetorical expression in visual form"
"the effort to understand and theorize rhetoric that occurs in visual form" (Edwards, 220) Visual Rhetoric as Public Address gettyimages.com Images of Everyday Life Logic of Visual Rhetoric pearlsofwar.blogspot.com explorechicago.com http://www.carsandracingstuff.com/ http://cae2k.com/ http://www.blackcommentator.com/ http://thewhitedsepulchre.blogspot.com/ http://www.haitian-truth.org/ Aesthetic v. Rhetorical Dimensions
aesthetic: immediate emotional response, not functional or instrumental
rhetorical: “critical, reflective analysis of the work or a cognitive apprehension of it.”
aesthetic response usually becomes a rhetorical response Discussion: 1.Would the depicted "masculation" of Lady Liberty provoke the same level of response as the depicted "feminization" of Uncle Sam (p. 545)?

2. Identify Palczewski's approach to, and definition of, visual rhetoric. How does she justify her work?

3. Can pictures provide argument that verbal/written discourse cannot?

4. Do you think images are best analyzed on a stand alone basis or when used in conjunction with verbal arguments? When do images make the strongest "argument," when alone or when supplementing verbal discourse?

5. Some scholars argue that images can only make arguments when translated into a verbal argument. Do you think this discounts the study of visual rhetoric?
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