Tag Archives: level

Exercise-Project-1-The Language of Photography

Photo by Elliott Erwitt, 1974.  Titled, ‘Dog legs’ This linked image is from: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk

At first glance the joke in this picture can be easily missed, simply a small ‘cute’ dog on a lead with it’s owners in a park.  The image has been taken at a very low angle from the level of the small dog cutting off the rest of the owners bodies from the frame.  But a second look and something is wrong with the two pairs of legs.  The nearest (probably) the dog’s mistress in her high length boots and now we notice the second pair of legs belong to another dog that appears to be only standing on it’s hind legs like a man.  (In fact with very close scrutiny you can work out that these are a tall dog’s front legs and the dog is standing diagonally to the photographer with it’s belly and hind legs cropped from the frame.) The subjects are positioned approximately one-quarter of the way up the frame with the cute dog to the right looking in to the lens; so drawing the viewer’s eye away from the left side of the picture.  The small dog is what Roland Barthes would call the ‘punctum’ in the image. The mistress stands in the middle and our eyes naturally glance at the boots which we expect to see the second pair of legs take third place in our visual priority and so don’t stand out until we take a closer look at the picture.  The image is also in black-and-white this also helps with the deception.  If it had been in colour I am sure the tan fur legs would have appeared more obviously in the image and the joke would have been weaker.  Erwitt had used a structure of vertical lines in this image which has an element of design. The image is backlit which makes his subjects stand out from the background.  The composition draws the eyes from the bottom of the picture through these vertical lines to the top.  The placement of the tall dog’s legs next to the lady’s boots looks natural, as if two people were standing posing before the photographer with their dog.  The depth-of-field is kept fairly shallow to keep the eyes from looking deeper in to the background that is unimportant.

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Research point – Sophie Calle’s, Take Care of Yourself

take_carePhoto by Sophie Calle.

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sophie+calle+take+care+of+yourself&view=detailv2&qpvt=sophie+calle+take+care+of+yourself&id=146C84BEE2771A29D7531289D3A155D79E5A8818&selectedindex=10&ccid=fgwGNZo8&simid=608002889935160216&thid=OIP.M7e0c06359a3c5e83367c18fc2bed29afo0&mode=overlay&first=1

Sophie Calle is a French photographer living and working in Paris.  Her project ‘Take Care of Yourself’ was inspired by a text message from her boyfriend who was dumping her by text.  The idea for the title was from how he signed off his text, “Prenez soins de vois” (Take care of yourself).  Calle writes that the idea came to her just a couple of days later after she had shown the message to friends and asked for there comments, she maintains that her agenda was never for revenge but was simply an inspired idea for an artistic project.  She makes no mention of the ex-lovers name and although she knows he was unhappy with the project, he decided (perhaps sensibly) not to interfere.

Once she decided to use her text as the subject for her project she spent two years showing around her text to a 107 professional women, photographed them reading it and invited them to analyse it according to their job: The text’s grammar and syntax was torn apart by a copy editor, his manners rubbished by an etiquette consultant, his lines pored over by a Talmudic scholar, his text re-ordered by a crossword setter, evaluated by a Judge, shot up by a markswomen, second guessed by a chess player, performed by actress, Jeanne Moreau, a psychiatrist called the author of the text “A twisted manipulator”  Taken from an interview with The Guardian, ‘He loves me not’ and a Guardian article about her exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery also see Review to the Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition.

I found this to be a very funny, cleaver and entertaining idea of addressing a very personal and upsetting experience.  On one level in is a way she is getting even, on another level she is rising above it and by turning it on it’s head she is making art out of it.  On yet another level she is empowering other people who perhaps have experienced something very similar in their own lives.  I like the way she has creatively produced different images of the text, a ballet dancer reading it as she conducts stretching exercises on the bar, a lady reading the text with the text overlaid on the whole image, another turned in to a greeting card for example.

This project is a very interesting example of postmodern work it makes us consider our modern life styles and methods of communication and how this impacts on us as individuals and as human beings.  This insider position is also a reflection of modern women and their growing empowerment.

 

 

 

Rhetoric of the Image, Roland Barthes

Image_Music_Text

In Barthes essay, ‘Rhetoric of the image’ he uses photographs used for advertisements as an example of his argument.  Referring to an advert for Italian ‘Panzani’ pasta and salsas he describes the image as having a language that can be read, he suggest that by analysing the picture, three messages can be deduced: a linguistic message, a coded iconic message, and a non-coded iconic message.

Coded and non-coded iconic messages can be mixed together and they are visual queues often learned through cultural experiences.

A linguistic message is a message in text that accompanies the picture and this takes two forms ‘anchor’ and ‘relay’.

Anchoring is the most common and is commonly used for both advertising and press photography.  This is a form of text that anchors the meaning of the image to a written message of the advertisement or the news story.

Relay, is not so commonly used, it is often used for complementary relationships between fragments of text and images.  For example an appropriately complementing photograph to a section of text from a poem.  This type of message allows the picture and text to interact with each other. A picture of a green field dotted here and there with red poppies and a short section of a war poem suggests that the image reflects the text and the text reflects the image.  The image already has connotations of war and remembrance as does the chosen passage from a poem.

The denoted image.  Barthes writes that the denoted image for a photograph is a message without a code, the photograph is able to transmit the literal information but a drawing must first follow rules which even when denoted is still a coded message.  A drawing requires a certain amount of training thus introducing style as a second cultural coded message.  The photograph simply denoting the relationship of nature and a single culture coded message from the image itself.

Rhetoric of the image.  In an image rhetoric is the message based on cultural and educational experiences that communicate to the viewer at different levels based on education and life’s experiences this is done at an unconscious level. Objects that can be recognised as symbols for example the net bag holding the Penzani pasta products suggesting to some connotations of a fishing net or harvesting together a meal, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, connotations of the Italian flag, fresh healthy meal, etc.