word pictures, picture pictures …
June 10, 2009 § 8 Comments
Snarl borrowed my camera today, my “good” one, to shoot a story for the St Louis Beacon where he’s interning.
He called me at work to say he loves my camera.
Now he’s had a taste of a digital SLR.
He said that juggling a camera and interviewing for the story, too, is tough. Will this be the way of the reporter? Yesterday he would have said that a writer writes, a photographer shoots. Now he’s faced with doing both.
I wonder if it will change news reporting for him, to be able to take pictures to go with his writing, to handle both “arts” himself.
That’s a challenge for a news writer.
But the visual and the textual continue to marry, not to blur the lines of the two disciplines but to sharpen impact, to give the reader even more “story.”
Many entries ago, I was rattling on and on the power of visuals (photos, graphics, etc) combined text and the power of the two combined. Shoreacres mentioned something called “visual rhetoric.”
The only place I found a definition in my very abbreviated hunt was on good old (and oft unreliable) Wikipedia.
Madison Ave makes excellent use of visual rhetoric however the definition below is apparently edging away from the use of graphic and words to sell something. “VR” is a bit of something else. See what you think. It’s a little tough to put your finger on, kind of like a Morrison or Pynchon novel.
So, the following pieces defining visual rhetoric are below, though not in entirety…
“Visual rhetoric is the fairly recent development of a theoretical framework describing how visual images communicate, as opposed to aural or verbal messages. The study of visual rhetoric is different from that of visual or graphic design, in that it emphasizes images as rational expressions of cultural meaning, as opposed to mere aesthetic consideration (Kress and van Leeuwen 18).
Visual rhetoric examines also the relationship between images and writing. Some examples of artifacts analyzed by visual rhetoricians are charts, paintings, sculpture, diagrams, web pages, advertisements, movies, architecture, newspapers, photographs, etc.
Visual rhetoric is a broader study, covering all the visual ways humans try to communicate, outside academic policing (Kress 11).
Visual tropes and tropic thinking are a part of visual rhetoric (the art of visual persuasion and visual communication using visual images). The study includes, but is not limited to, the various ways in which it can be applied throughout visual art history.
The term “visual rhetoric” has emerged mainly as a way of marking out disciplinary territory for scholars interested in non-textual artifacts such as those mentioned above; conceptually, the term “visual rhetoric” is itself somewhat problematic. It is usually used to denote non-textual artifacts, yet any mark on a surface — including text — can be seen as “visual.” Consider the texts available at Project Gutenberg. These “plain vanilla” texts, lacking any visual connection to their original, published forms, nevertheless suggest important questions about visual rhetoric. Their bare-bones manner of presentation implies, for example, that the “words themselves” are more important than the visual forms in which the words were originally presented. Given that such texts can easily be read by a speech synthesizer, they also suggest important questions about the relationship between writing and speech, or orality and literacy.
I am not yet ready to paraphrase any of the above. Still wrapping my arms around it. Still wondering if there’s any thing “new” about it. Snarl would argue, and no likely he will, that photos with news stories are indeed actual stories in themselves and not there to blur any lines, do any aesthetic thing.
Well, yes, probably true.
I’ll ask Snarl about theory when he finishes the assignment and hands the camera back. Please.
Nonetheless, there is overall a move, forged by many amateur and published artists to make interesting use of combining words and images for power. Not movies, not ads, not photo books with cutlines, not posters … it’s something more. See what you can make of it.
For starters, do you read blogs that have no pictures?