Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Assignment 2

Part B

In this assignment we were asked firstly to randomly choose 3 images and ask a group of people of different ages, backgrounds, genders etc to analyse these photos and say what there understanding of the story that these three images convey. After that we had to add a 4th image and see if this helped people come up with the same interpretation of the image and then finally after that add text to one image and if they didn't come up with the same interpretation then add text to another image until everyone had the same understanding on the set of images.

My first image was this one which is a bottle of wine with two wine glasses.

The second image is this photo which looks like a tropical island or paradise.

The third photo is of a love heart in the sky.

Part C

The people that I chose for this task were different ages, different genders, from different backgrounds and from different areas. I think that it is important to have a variety of people for this experiment so that it would work best. Most of the responses were very similar but it was interesting to see how different people interpret the same thing.

"A couple go on a romantic holiday and a plane draws a heart in the sky" Kirsty, 19, Montrose, Student

"A couple went away on a romantic get away where they relaxed on the beach and drank wine while watching the sun set" Fiona, 19, Balloch, Student

"Someone goes on holiday and has fun relaxing on the beach and drinking wine and they meet someone and fall in love." Ashley, 17, Rothesay, 6th Year Pupil.

"A couple went on a romantic holiday to a beautiful island and spent their time relaxing on the beach and drinking wine." Katie, 19, Glasgow, Student.

"A couple are on holiday and they are lying on the beach one day watching the sunset and drinking wine and the man proposes to his girlfriend" Brad, 21, Rothesay, Landscape Gardener

Part D

I now had to chose one of the previous stories and add a fourth image and see if the next group of people all have the same response to the images. The story that I chose was the second one by Fiona. The 4th image was a kiwi fruit.

"A couple were on their honeymoon on an exotic island. They lay on the beach all day sunbathing, relaxing and eating exotic fruits. When night fell it was time for champagne while watching a beautiful sunset." Sarah, 20, Northern Ireland, Student.

"There was nothing better than sitting on the beach at night with a glass of wine watching the sun set. Or during the day I loved spending the day looking at the crisp white clouds in the sky." Karen, 21, Northern Ireland, Student.

"A newly married couple decided to spend their honeymoon on a beautiful island. They planned to spend their time relaxing underneath the beautiful sky and also eating and drinking fresh food and drink." Ross, 22, Dundee, Student.

"A couple were on holiday on a beautiful island and spent their time watching the sunset, eating fresh fruit and drinking wine." Siobhan, 20, Stirling, Student.

Part E

For this part of the assignment I added the word "Honeymoon" to one of the images.

"A couple are on their honeymoon on an exotic island and they spent their time eating fresh fruit, drinking wine and watching the sun set." Gregor, 18, Rothesay, Blacksmith

"There is a couple on their honeymoon abroad on an exotic island" Harley, 18, Rothesay, Mechanic.

"There is a couple on their honeymoon on a tropical island and they spend everyday relaxing in the sun, eating fresh food and drinking lovely wine." Georgeann, 51, Rothesay, Primary Teacher

"It was the middle of the summer and a newly married couple were on their honeymoon on an exotic island and they spent every day with each other sunbathing on the beach and eating the local produce." Jen, 22, Rothesay, Sectary.

"A young couple are on their honeymoon in New Zealand and spent their time at beaches and drinking wine" Mairi, 26, Glasgow, Nurse.

"There was a newly married couple on their honeymoon on an exotic island and they spent all of their time eating fresh fruit, drinking wine and relaxing on the beach." Sian 26 Rothesay, Nurse

"Newly married couple on their honeymoon on an exotic island. They spent all of their time relaxing on the beach and drinking wine" Janine, 24, Rothesay, Factory Worker.

I think that this assignment was a good way to learn that many different people read into photographs in different ways but when text is added to the photo, the image is interpreted very well by the viewers. In the first experiment the first responses where quite similar but as i added another image and text then everyone's responses started to become more similar. This experiment definitely helped my understanding of Barthes' essay "The rhetoric image" as I learned that adding text helps the viewer understand the image a bit more than they did without the text.

Rhetoric of the image

For the first part of this assignment we had to read Roland Barthes' essay "The Rhetoric of the image". I found it difficult to understand but after reading it a few times I soon understood the central message of the essay.

Barthes looks into the advertising image and analyses the image in order to obtain answers to questions such as how does meaning get in the image? Where does it end? And if it ends, what is there beyond? In some people's opinion's the image is seen to be inferior to "language" but on the other hand some people think that there are simply no words that can describe an image as the image is simply too powerful.

Images can sometimes be hard to interpret but after reading this I understood more about how we can break down am image in different sections in order to understand it's meanings and underlying connotations. Barthes discovers that an image is broken down into three messages which are: the linguistic, the coded-iconic, and the non-coded iconic. The linguistic message is a huge part of how images are portrayed and this is about how text can be used to add impact on an image but in some cases images do not need to be supported by text as they are powerful enough as they are. Labels in images can suggest to the viewer the company's name and also information about the quality of the item and company. The linguistic language sometimes does not offer any advantage to the viewer as some images are powerful enough let us interpret them without the aid of any linguistic message but however images as well if interpreted accurately can help with the understanding of the text. The image that Barthes is analysing contains various key aspects that help the viewer interpret it such as composition, language and the way it evokes feelings or memories. Our interpretation of images depends enormously on culture.

Although this essay was a difficult read it gave me a huge insight into analysing images and I enabled me to understand the importance of images. After reading this essay, the second part of this assignment will allow us to carry out an experiment which will hopefully improve my understanding of Barthes' essay as well.

Monday, 22 February 2010


I was looking forward to last Friday's lecture for the simple reason that it was about Disneyfication. Although I'm almost 21 I still love watching Disney films and going to the Disney store as I love anything Disney. I think it's because I've grown up watching Disney films and it just takes me back to my childhood. Disneyfication refers to a specific approach to place, history and literature characterized by simplification and a cleansing of unpleasantness. Disneyization refers to a structural change in society as exemplified by principles associated with the Disney theme parks.(Alan Bryman 2004).

The Disney Castle in Orlando Florida is a magical place and is very exciting when you see it in real life!

We watched a video of Beauty and the Beast and we were also shown pictures of how the characters physical appearances have changed over the years and they are now more attractive. The video showed clips of the classic Disney film and also people's opinions about how Beauty and the Beast is ultimately about the Beast who is the male being violent and abusive towards Belle the female and these people think that this might rub off on the children watching it. My opinion is that these people are reading into this far too much because when I was a child I didn't pick up on it and I'm confident that none of my friends did either. Another point that the critics picked up on was the fact that in if not every then the majority of Disney films the female character always has to rely on being saved or looked after by the heroic male implying that females cannot be independent. I think that this is a fair point but in Disney's defence I really don't think that children are going to pick up on this, especially when now a days there are so many young single mum's who have to be independent.

Over the years Disney films have been altered so that they have happy endings as opposed to horrible and horrific ones which would leave children not loving Disney as much as they do. In all Disney films the female characters have been portrayed as almost barbie doll like which is unrealistic and this might be one thing that young girls pick up on. This is the wrong image to be projecting but if the females in Disney weren't as perfect would it have the same effect on children loving Disney so much.
To conclude I think that although there is alot of criticism of Disney, it is a hugely successful business which lightens up children's lives, and also perhaps some adults too.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Analysing Photographs

Assignment 1

For this assignment I chose to analyse six of Alison Donachie's photographs of herself growing up. Although Alison is in my class I do not know her very well so she would be a good subject for this assignment. I also thought it would be a good way to find out more about one of my classmates. At first I found it quite difficult to try and work out who people in the photographs were and what the possessions said about Alison and her family. Once I started though it didn't take long for things to make sense and a story was soon created from the photo.

Photo 1: In this photo is Alison and what looks like an older sister, who was probably a key influence on Alison growing up. The older girl in the photograph doesn't look particularly interested in what Alison is doing, perhaps suggesting that the two girls don't have a very close relationship, maybe because the other girl is quite a few years older than Alison. Alison is dressed very smart but she is very young, maybe about 5 or 6 so it is more than likely that her mother has chose her outfit for her to wear. However at this age her favourite colours seem to be red and pink as her outfit is mainly red and there is a pink doll's house sitting beside Alison as if she has been playing with it. This shows that she likes playing with typical little girls toys and she is not much of a tom boy. The living room is very tidy and everything is in it's place showing that the household is very organised.

Photo 2: This looks like a family photograph, maybe not of immediate family but cousins, aunts and uncles as well? It looks like it is at some sort of occasion like a Christmas dinner or a party as one of the older ladies is wearing a party hat. They all look close and happy however Alison looks a bit confused and maybe not too happy that the photo has been taken. I don't know if she was maybe just a bit shy as these people do not look like immediate family. On the other hand she seems to look quite settled and comfortable sitting on this older ladies knee, whether it's her grandmother or an older aunt. Alison seems to be starting to take control of her dress sense more as she has her hat on back to front rather than having it sitting normally, maybe trying to be different or this was the cool way to wear a hat.

Photo 3: This photo is of Alison and what looks like the family pets, a dog and a rabbit. She seems to show an interest in animals and she looks very comfortable and happy with these animals. Her body language conveys that she is not at all scared of these animals and she is confident in the way that she holds them. Alison looks like she is still quite young in this photo, implying that her love of animals started at a young age. Close bond with animals, maybe more so the dog as it is very close to her so there must be alot of trust in the relationship. Alison is also wearing Adidas trousers showing that she was aware of fashions from a young age.

Photo 4: Confirming interest in animals and her love for them as she is with what looks like her dog or a relatives dog and she looks extremely happy. It looks like she has a very close bond with this dog because in both the photos that the dog is in it is very close to Alison and it doesn't look uncomfortable. The dog looks like it has been part of Alison's life when she was growing up and this is why they have such a close relationship. Alison is also wearing an Adidas top which shows that fashion had an influence on her growing up. In the background there is a photo of what looks like Alison or her sister (if it was her sister in the first photo) showing her family are proud.

Photo 5: Alison is a young teenager in this photograph with a close friend. She looks very happy and they seem to be very close because they not only have an arm round each other, her friend is also holding her hand showing that they are comfortable and happy in each other's company. Judging by Alison's top (an AC-DC t-shirt) she knows what music she likes and perhaps had an older person influencing her as the band is an older band. Perhaps a parent of older sibling has influenced her taste. She looks like she is beginning to take more pride in her image as her hair has been dyed and cut shorter and this is maybe her beginning to create her own sense of style. From the photo the environment looks like a nice and comfortable house. The kitchen looks modern and again everything seems to have a place shoeing the household is very organised.

Photo 6: In high school, with friends in what looks like the playground or sports field. They all look very happy and close. Alison seems to be growing up and following fashion trends. She has dyed her hair again in this photo and although all the girls are in school uniform they still convey their own style such as their belts, jewellery and hair styles. Alison looks alot more confident and it doesn't look like her favourite colours are pink and red anymore.

When I talked to Alison about the photos and my comments she said that all the information that I got from them was accurate. This shows that you don't have to be a psychic to be able to read photographs. People's possessions and body language in a photo can say a million words and this was proved in this assignment.