Friday, 5 November 2010

WEEK 12: PHOTOJOURNALISM


I always admired the work of photojournalists in giving a series of photographs to show us the prove of reality. I always believed that Photojournalism has the motive to show the reality which differentiates its purpose from photography which sometimes depicts an illustration of reality. I rely on the work of photojournalist to see the reality that I wasn’t there to conceive with my own eyes, and with my own experience. The postmodern era marks the beginning of digital photography that has been claimed as the destruction to photojournalism on giving reality. My purpose of writing this journal is to argue that neither digital photojournalism nor traditional photojournalism is able to portray reality. Reality as it is cannot be conceived through camera. I want to raise the issue of “photographic truth” as the ethics of photojournalism in the photograph that do not involve manipulation and how these photographs  become untrue.


Photojournalism is the combination of photography and journalism. Stuart Allan in his book journalism: critical issues stated the statement made by Barbie Zelizer that "Photojournalism records an event by using pictures to make their own point of view of that particular issue. The importance of photography to support their point of view is that for many of us of age in mediated era, seeing is believing” (Allan, 2005).


Philosopher Immanuel Kant in his critique of pure reason introduced the transcendental idealism where he declare two different perception of how human being perceived reality, intuition and concept. He quoted that “intuition contains merely the form under which something is intuited” this means that our immediate perception gives us reality as it is. However, his other perception involves what he called a concept which is “through the former object is given to us, it is though in relation to that representation (Guyer, Wood, 1997).This means that our immediate perception (intuition) is where reality is being conceived as it is but the mediate perception (concept) involves our active mind to choose or to select certain aspect of that reality we conceived through the intuition , When human active mind chooses certain aspect of that reality, it is no longer the whole reality, it is already a representation.

Digital photojournalism has been accused as unethical as it involves the manipulation of reality through technologies while non-digital photojournalism portrays reality. I don’t think that either of these two portrays reality. I would like to use Immanuel Kant’s view on intuition and concept to be compared to photojournalism. Photojournalist conceives reality immediately as his eyes sees the events, his immediate perception is called intuition but as his mind becomes active, his mind allows him to select some parts of the events he want to depict through his camera, this selection of  the aspect of reality  is called a "concept". If non-digital, unaltered photograph are taken based upon the photojournalist point of view/perspective, doesn’t this already making it a mere representation of reality. The frame itself is taken upon his point of view making the narrative itself is selected by the photographer to be presented to the audiences. Doesn’t this show that audiences are already been force to interpret the events exactly like what the photographer want, they cannot interpret otherwise since the story portrays by the narrative is based upon photographer's agenda.





This is the photograph of war which depicts the event around the war, all the reality of the despair, the battle are presented as a story through the photograph without any technical involvement of photo manipulation. The photographer might not interfere with the events of the war, he took the picture and he left like a bird without altering anything in front of him. This might seems ethical, but think about the purpose of photojournalism, they offer to show audiences with reality. They claim that reality is captured through their camera, promising only reality. I think photograph like this is biased because it shows only one point of view of war; the photographer selected his frame base on his agenda to show only one aspect of war which is the battle. Audiences do not have a freedom to interpret this image by themselves as the frame is already selected for them. They can only see the denotation of the soldiers in a battle running in water with their guns. Audiences cannot interpret otherwise, they cannot think about any other meaning besides what has been presented to them. The glory of war is not selected in this frame even though in reality, war has a defeat as well as a glory. This picture alone cannot depict reality of war as it only shows one biased point of view. Audiences cannot see the portrayal of glory of the war due to the photographer’s biases in presenting his agenda.





This is the famous picture called "the migrant mother" taken in 1936 by Dorothea Lange. The mother who is living in poverty in USA depicts the portrayal of the truth of her condition. But we never think about the photographer’s agenda and also the subject of her photographs. The photographer shows only one aspect of her agenda which is to show the cultural critique of poverty, thus selecting this frame as her narrative. The photographer’s already choose this frame for interpreter’s to interpret, this do not leave any freedom for people like us to interpret what we want to interpret, and I can only interpret on what I see, through the photographer’s agenda. I also want to argue that this photograph is taken from a specific focus/angel which portrays the face of the mother. It seems that the mother was aware of the fact that she is being photograph. Once the subject is aware of the camera in front of her, doesn’t this make her human nature to act or to behave a certain way for the camera?  Surely this shows the reality of the mother being poor, but this picture is just the representation of her poverty.



This is another photographic picture of Hitler and the Nazis. In this picture, the subjects which is Hitler and the rest of the Nazis were perfectly aware that they are being photograph. This awareness makes their human nature to behave in front of the camera, hiding their true personality to make themselves look fierce, powerful and cruel. They act in front of the camera to reveal the brutality of being a Nazis.This picture masked the subject true selves, therefore this picture is not the portrayal of the reality of the Nazis, as its narrative is being structured by the subject themselves.

I have shown three photographs to illustrate my claims that taking a frame based on photojournalist point of view is already a manipulation to the truth, so I ask myself; what makes this different form digital manipulation like adobe Photoshop, cropping and editing. This is a form of manipulation as well; even though the manipulation does not involve technologies.

It is the nature of human beings to see, to think and to doubt. Due to the interferences of our mind, reality as it is in the external world will never be the same as it is to the mind of human being. Our mind enables us to think and to choose what we wanted to see. We are so attracted with the supposedly reality portrayed in photojournalism without any doubt that our mind became the destruction of that reality. This has leads us in an ongoing debate of the never ending ethical issues regarding the search for “photographic truth” in photojournalism.


References:
Allan, Stuart. (2005). Journalism: critical issues (Ed). Open University Press. Berkshire.

Guyer, Paul. Wood, Allen W.(1997). Immanuel Kant : A Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

WEEK 11: INFORMATION GRAPHICS

The use of information graphics is vital in media particularly in news and documentaries. I am always been interested by the courage of the media in giving consumers series of visual images to enhance a better understanding. I truly appreciate that they uses this images to make me understand the message being delivered. However, studying rationalism in philosophy has enhanced my skeptical believe on what I see in order to find certainties .Thus I always question that it might be made easy for consumer to understand through the use visual graphics but it is also easier for the media to manipulate visual graphics to make audiences support their agenda. The purpose of writing this journal is that I want to argue that visual graphics particularly statistics can be easily manipulated, thus deceiving our perception of the truth.



Jonathan Evans in his tilted book “ Bias in human reasoning stated that “Human beings have the fundamental tendency to seek information consistent with their current beliefs, theories or hypothesis and to avoid the collection of the potentially falsifying evidence”.( Evans, 1990 p.41).



Media biases sometimes uses information graphics to lured audiences into what they want them to believe, leaving no freedom for audiences like us to question and to interpret the meaning by ourselves. Statistics that are often presented in a form of graphs serves as a powerful weapon to persuade the public by giving empirical evidences that seems indisputable. Media is always been a powerful deceiving device to the public, they have their own agenda to be presented to audiences. They are what I call the evil/demon who has manipulated our perception just like what Descartes has mentioned in his second meditation.



Alex Fisher in his book titled critical thinking stated that “statistics are evidence expressed in numbers. Such evidence can seem quite impressive because of the numbers make evidence appear to be very scientific, often do, lie. They do not  necessarily prove what they appear to prove”. (Fisher, 2001).

News or documentaries certainly uses information graphic to support their proposition. This might not seems wrong on showing evidence to justify their claims. But when evidence itself is being manipulated, the whole information given to the audiences are deceptive, the evidences are all lie. Consumers can no longer see the truth. Here is the example of a mass persuasion made by information graphics, using statistics in a form of graph.






The former American vice president, Al Gore in his documentary called "an inconvenient truth " uses  a graph which is already been manipulated in order to raise the public concern of environmental issues and global warming. This graph is not real it is being manipulated to support his agenda on raising concern of environmental issues. The classical American hegemony of a powerful Al Gore has lured millions of viewers into believing that the graph shows the whole truth. His biased reasoning has made the documentary an instant hit. Viewers think that he is the all American hero without any doubt that he is in fact a liar. He claims that within less than 30 years the carbon dioxide concentration will increase and the world will be in danger of global warming. Knowing that viewers will never question the credibility of his graph, he has manipulate it to raise the public concern of global warming.



video

Here is the video of  Fox news blaming Al Gore about his lies. The debate showing the fox news calculating the numbers of carbon dioxide emission today, and comparing it to Al Gore's Graph. If it wasn’t because of the video regarding his lies, we might not know about his lies after all.



In conclusion, it seems that information graphics seems to be used for media for a better understanding but there are some statistical facts being manipulated to support their agenda. Information graphics doesn't always show us the whole truth as the media plays a vital role in deceiving people's perception. Human agenda has interfere the portrayal of the truth, something that are design to make an easier understanding for communication has turned into a deceiving communication.


References:

Evans, Jonathan St-B.T.( 1990) Biased in human reasoning. Lawrence Earlbaum Association Ltd Publishing. East Eussex.


Fisher, Alec.(2001). Critical thinking. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

WEEK 10: GAMES AND AVATAR IN THE INFORMATION AGE


Machines have now works like hands and also legs to human being. Nevertheless, Games and avatar creates such a virtual world that mimics reality, we are able to create a new life, a new identity, and communicate in a virtual world of cyberspace. As a consumer to technological products, I feel that we rely on technology to increase our limitation and to improve our imperfections. I feel that our dependent on technologies has made us more valuable. I have always been seeing myself as human without any doubt that I am otherwise.The purpose of writing this journal is that I want to investigate that whether our over dependent on technologies has made us a cyborg. Does the modern era where we live in have transform human into a hybrid of machine and human? 



Norbert Weiner in his book titled Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine stated that a cybernetic organism (cyborg) is a biological creature, generally a human being whose functioning has been enhanced through integration of mechanical, electrical, computational, or otherwise artificial, components. (weiner, 1965)

Andy Clark stated that 'human beings have always been  natural-born cyborgs, that is they always collaborated and merged with non-biological props and aids in order to find better environments for thinking". (Clark, 2003).


In order to investigate the true nature of ourselves, whether we are fully human or a hybrid of human and machines, I think the answer lies in the man who had started this ongoing debate. He was Rene Descartes, the father of modern philosophy. He introduced the mind/body dualism where he justified that mind and body are two separate entities. The distinction between mind and body enables a further idea of a body being a machine.



He also provides a solution to find certainties. His first meditation of philosophy began with his introduction of the method of doubt. In the book titled Rene Descartes : Meditation on the First Philosophy, Descartes quoted “some years ago I was struck by the large number of falsehood that I had accepted as true in my childhood, and by highly doubtful nature of the whole edifice that I had subsequently based on them”. (Cottingham, 1986).


Doubt is our only solution of finding the truth. In order to find our true nature,  we have to doubt our human nature by seeing an opposite side of our inhuman, to see the contradicting point of view of Andy Clark whether we really are the natural born cyborgs.Our over consumption of technologies might be the reason that we are not fully human. we uses shoes in everyday to help us walk, we uses avatar and games to pleasure ourselves upon the technologies that help us to escape the imperfect live of reality. We use transportation to reach our destination. Social media help us communicate in a virtual world.



Avatar and games allow us to communicate in a virtual world, to create another version of our lives , we communicate, meeting people is possible through the game above called the second life. Over dependent on technologies has gone beyond reality, it has now transferred into virtual world. This shows how imperfect we are as a human being. The mindless machines has now helping us to increase our limitation, doesn't it make us a hybrid of human and machine( cyborg) where our lives is enhanced with technologies.This might seems not a strong enough reason to justify my claims that we are cyborgian in nature as we uses technologies externally but I will show  how human uses internal technologies.


I want to use the film “inspector gadget” as it has influenced me to know that human are cyborgian in nature due to our over dependent on technologies. Movies like inspector gadget has a purpose to open our eyes that we are not fully human. 


video



In this scene, Inspector John Brown is just an ordinary police officer but the accident that has left his body damaged made it clear that human “body” is in fact machine. His imperfect damaged body is replaced by advanced technologies to make him half human, and half machine. His body is replaced with the enhancement of machines in order to safe his live.  There are metals and wires everyday in his body. Thus, making him a cyborg. This situation of inspector gadget is highly impossible in real life. But when I think about it, there are some situations where this is possible but not to certain extend like the one in inspector gadget. But there are in fact some cases that made it possible for internal machines to be inserted in  human bodies, and become a part of them.






These are the pictures of an artificial heart machine, a new machine created to help heart patients improve their health condition. This shows that human uses machine internally as it is inserted in their bodies. Doesn’t this shows that there are humans whose bodies are half metal and half biological human. The patient's biological bodies is enhanced by technologies. There are machines in human bodies, functioning to help them continue living. Our consumption of technologies either internally or externally made us a cyborg. Internal and external use of technologies has enhanced our biological nature, which fit the definition of cyborg above. What can we do without technologies? Can our imperfect body works without the help of technologies. I am sure that we cannot, even to feed ourselves we need machines as well. To cook we need pan, to eat we need bowl and to drink we need a cup.


In conclusion, Descartes has purposed the idea of a machine as well as giving us a solution in the method of doubt to help us find certainties. He was right that there is a need to doubt in order to find certainties. In today’s modern era, technologies has been a part of our lives both externally and internally to help us in our everyday lives. We are blinded by our false knowledge that we are fully human. Only by having doubt we are able to acquire the truth about our true nature in the middle of our constant use of technologies. Philosophy has given human beings the ability to improve their intellectuality by proposing the idea of a machine as well as the solution to the consequences of our dependent on it.


References:  


Clark, Andy.(2003). Natural-born cyborgs : mind, technology and future of human intelligence. Oxford University Press. Oxford.

Cottingham, John.(1986). Rene Descartes: Meditation on the first philosophy. The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge.

Weiner, Norbert. (1948). Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. John Wiley & Sons Inc. New York


Thursday, 28 October 2010

WEEK 9: CINEMA AND CULTURAL LITERACY


Living in postmodern world, things gets digital everyday and upon the advanced in technology. On representing culture, cinema must possess a great knowledge on cultural literacy. In this journal, I have chosen the film Sydney White where it shows the portrayal of teen’s lives in university, the same live that I am currently living. I feel that as a university student, the set of rules and convention  in fraternity has put pressure on young educated girls to socializes the way they are ask to, to look thin, to put on beautiful clothes, to change their personality to become a sorority sister. Creating  a group of minorities for me is just discrimination, an excuse for human to create glory for themselves by eliminating those who aren’t fit. I always believe that people are made equal, and discrimination is  unethical. The purpose of writing this journal is to investigate how filmmakers understanding of cultural literacy in cinema is the vital role in  representing specific culture. However, I would like to criticize that some cultural literacy might provoke a political point of view as a result of their set of law.


Hirsch’s definition of Cultural Literacy is “the fund of information possessed by all competent readers belonging to a certain culture.”(Hirsch, 1987). In the film “Sydney White”, the filmmaker of this movie inserted teen cultural literacy of “a fraternity or sorority”, a teen cultural literacy of America. The film maker uses the cultural literacy to represent the culture of University lives in USA.


Jane Goodman and Leila Monaghan in their book titled A cultural approach to interpersonal communication: essential reading stated that the definition by Eckert that Fraternity is described as a social club at university in which members is selective, becomes the central organization around which members structure their college lives, especially socially and it is also a community practice. This fraternity is essential in the film “Sydney White”. The rules of fraternity are highlighted by Cynthia Mclemore as it is an intensely well-defined community and its activities are based primarily on talk, meetings and parties. (Goodman, Monaghan, 2007).


 Scene 1 "Sydney White"
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Scene 2 " Sydney White"
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The first scene above is taken from the film “Sydney White” depicts a fraternity culture living in a big house named “Kappa Phi Nu” shows that they have specific rules and convention that each member need to adopt in order to fit into the fraternity lives. In the scene 1, they must possess a very attractive physique, a perfect skin, a thin body and are able to socialize themselves. In scene 1, Sydney White broke the law of fraternity as stated that she brought an unsuitable date to the date dash as well as cheated during pledge quiz. This action is itself a contradiction of becoming a sorority sister. Due to this specific rule, she is exiled from the privilege social club. This creates political point of view in her perspective, the script writer of this movie creates a political perspective from the main protagonist as a result of the cultural literacy of fraternity. Sydney White portrayed a girl who is unfit to play a social role of a fraternity. She provoke political point of view upon struggling to find the meaning of being a fraternity.

At the end of Scene 1, marks the event when Sydney white is being exiled from being a kappa due to her lack of social roles in finding a proper date, cheated during pledge quiz and for lying about her status as Plumber’s daughter. She struggles to find the meaning of being socially fit to the role of being a sorority sister on what is the real meaning of being a sorority sister. Her socially unfit personality to be questioned, for people not accepting her personality makes and her struggle of humiliation makes her to grow more political than any other characters. Her transition for the kappa house to the geek house, the feel to be eliminated from a privilege club to a geek house, a house for those of the unpopular. Nevertheless, scene 2 also depicts another politics in the characters of the boys in the geek house where they grew political to find their identity, their attractiveness in the middle of all the competition of being the ideal fraternity. The boys struggle to find themselves in a position of the being the unpopular, living in small and ugly house.


Filmmaker must possess a great knowledge in cultural literacy to represent specific culture. By portraying the cultural literacy, a film is able to depict a certain rule of the culture. Only by representing the concept fraternity, filmmaker are able to portray the whole idea of an American University lives. The representation of fraternity is portrayed as a central phenomenon in American University; the set of law of the cultural literacy of fraternity is highlighted that gives viewers the impressions of the real events in American University. Are we or are we not seeing the reality of the culture through cinema? Audiences are able to acquire knowledge on what fraternity is all about and representation allows the impression of the real events of fraternity. Whether or not this representation portrays the real truth about the cultural literacy of fraternity. I want to criticize that this representation of USA university students lives might be biased. Filmmaker only shows the students obsession  about their social role with the prestigious club, this is not what the university live in America is all about. Where are  the cultural literacy of their studies activity.

 In conclusion, we live in modern world where cinema and other digital media give audiences knowledge of a specific culture by using the law that compromises this cultural literacy in order for people to see the culture in the mirror of its representation. The hope of cinema to represent the reality, to act like a mirror to real cultural events of the culture.


References:

Hirsh, E.D. Jr. (1987) Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.Houghton Mifflin Co.Boston

Goodman, Jane E.  Monaghan, Leila. (2007). A cultural approach to interpersonal communication: essential reading (ed).Blackwell Publishing. Oxford



Thursday, 21 October 2010

WEEK 8 : PHOTOGRAPHY: RECONCEPTUALISING CULTURE, MEMORY AND SPACE


I use photography to document real events for memory of the past and current lives. For me it is the plain pictures that act to retain or pause a moment to keep it as memory. All this time, It has never crossed my mind that photography can act as a powerful weapon of  photographer’s intention. Photographer that controls what he/she wants to make people see. The power that for me act like a “spell” where it can cause people to be manipulated. Upon learning photography in class, I learn that photography can be seen as a cultural critique that can lure people into criticizing the issues that the photograph raised. Photographers took a picture that depicts a cultural critique in order to lure people’s mind to criticize what he want them to criticize. In this journal, I would like to investigate on how the cultural critique of photography leads to mass persuasion where only by this cultural critique, human minds are easily compelled. How cultural critique change our perception of photography. 


As stated by Liz wells in her book thinking about photography: a critical introduction, Susan Santog discussed photography as trace of reality on interrogated photography in terms of extent to which the image reproduce reality. (Wells,1996)


Indonesian construction workers house in Brunei



Last week, I took a photograph of an Indonesians construction worker's house  in Brunei, this improper construction house is situated about a few miles from my house. My purpose of taking this photograph is to allow the interpretation of audience to see this image as what I want them to see.  My intention is to raise the issue on the cultural critique of capitalism as the driving force in Indonesian government.  As shown in this picture, the denotation shows Indonesian workers seem to be living in an improper house made of zinc in Brunei away from their homeland of Indonesia. This alone connotes the negative ideologies of Indonesian capitalism as the root of their suffrage. Capitalism allows profit to be privately owned, those who are rich, gets richer while those who are poor stays poor. Widening the gap between the rich and the poor. This biased form of government system is exactly what happened in Indonesia as stated by Richard Robinson, “It is capitalism which constitutes the most dynamics social, economic and political force at work in Indonesia today, rapidly and remorselessly uprooting and reshaping the lives of its people”. (Robinson, 2009).


These Indonesian workers are victims of capitalism as they are here, traveling across the sea to live in our country to seek for job opportunities. Living in an improper house in an unpleasant environment , with  no proper water supply, and no proper sewage system. Audiences will easily be moved by what this photography has shown just because I as a photographer  has managed to capture a cultural critique of the image. Audiences will easily be compelled only by seeing images of a cultural critique where this photograph will always be seen as a memory to the inefficiency of Indonesian government on handling unemployment as well as the cruelty of capitalism.


Upon taking this photograph, I have captured a real life scene that enables the portrayal of politics. Here, I have captured the politics of poverty. Politics is defined as the struggle over meaning. Those Indonesia construction workers in my photography depict their struggle over the meaning of success, the difficulties of living in a bad infrastructure house with no facilities to call it a home. How difficult it is to survive in other country, struggling to find the meaning of being in a foreign place. They also face difficulties as they struggle over the meaning of being underachievers. People perception’s on the discourses of construction workers house draws the negative ideologies of this type of house as the destruction of a beautiful environment. This individual struggle to live with the ideologies of people’s perception about them. How it feels like to live in a foreign place made up of unwanted materials, having been seen as an interruption to an environment. All of the political point of view exist due to these individuals being victimized by the cruelty of capitalism. The cultural critique of capitalism that I have shown in this photograph is the causation of their politics.

When taking the picture, I act as a photographer where I possess the power to influence people’s perception. By taking a picture containing a cultural critique, I create such an emotional impact in people’s mind and having the power to compelled people into what I wanted them to criticize.


In conclusion, the historical invention of Joseph Niepce prove to be a powerful weapon  to human's perception. Its powerful yet most deadliest tool of cultural critique has attracted political photographer as well as photojournalist to compelled the public. Photography has put its mark in the world by affecting the lives of each and everyone of us. It has no longer been seen as a trace of reality but as  powerful device that act to shattered our emotions away.


References:

Robinson, Richard (2009).Indonesia: The rise of capitalism. Equinox publishing . Singapore.
Wells, Liz. (1996). Thinking about Photography: a critical introduction ( 3rded). Routledge. London.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

WEEK 7 : VISUAL NARRATIVE AND THE MEDIA


Storytelling is apparent in everybody as a part of their life. My memory of narratives involves my childhood memory of reading and listening to stories. When I was young my grandmother was a very good storyteller, she always read children’s book to me.  I always thought that narrative is as simple as people telling stories, I never have thought about the structure of narrative that allows the interpretation of the meaning and messages. Upon learning the theory of visual narrative, I grew interest on learning about the structure of narrative. The purpose of writing this journal is that I want to investigate the difference between plot and story and  I also want to oppose that the argument regarding post structuralist narrative as the cause of the decline in Meta-narratives in relation to story and plot.


On studying philosophy, I am greatly influence by the philosophy of Rene Descartes, he was a dualist where he argued that mind and body are two separate entity, where he introduced the mind/body dualism.  Simliarly, Story and plot are two separate entity but they are interconnected with each other.



In the book titled Narrative, Plot is defined as the chain of causation which dictates that these events are somehow linked and therefore to be depicted in relation to each other. While story consists of all the events which are to be depicted (Cobley, 2001, p.5).

   Academy Award wining film "Milk"

Scene 1
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Scene 2
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These are some of the scenes in Sean Penn's portrayal of the  first gay politician , Harvey Milk in the film “Milk”. Story has always been associated with plot, each sequences in the scenes of Milk are linked together as plot to form a story. Each of the scene works like gestalt theory. In the book titled Gestalt psychology in German culture 1890-1967, Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka defined gestalt theory as "the experienced objects and relationships that are fundamentally different from the collections of sensations, parts, pieces or sums". (Ash, 1995). Each of the pieces must join together to form a whole. This psychological theory is applied here in plot and story. The pieces is the sequences of events that are causally link to each other which called the plot, this pieces of events must join together to form a whole which is the story.  Scene 1 above shows the opening scene  of the film portrays the celebration of Harvey Milk’s 40th birthday living in New York City where he met his male lover Scott Smith, where the scene highlights his sexual orientation as homosexual.Scene 2 portray the intimacy of his relationship with his male partner over a dinner. These scenes and other scenes in the movie are causally related to each other to form the story.





Some advertisement do not have a plot, advertisement such as posters have a story but they do dot have any plot.This advertisement does not have a plot. Plot must have a sequence of events that are link together.  "NO SMOKING" advertisement above consists only one event that makes up the totality of the event being depicted which is called story. This advert conveys a story of the dark side of smoking, the health issues that will arise as the effect of smoking. It does not consist of the sequence of events that are link together to for the story. This prove that story and plot are two separate entity and can exist independent of each other. Some genre such as poster advertisement convey a story independent of a plot.

Post structuralism is a movement in philosophy, particularly in French philosophy. Belsey defines it as “a theory or group of theories, concerning the relationship between human beings, the world, and the practice of making and reproducing meanings” (Belsey,2002 p. 5). Quentin Tarantino is famously known as the producer of post structuralist narratives in his film. In his film Kill Bill vol 1, the opening of the film depicts a scene where the main protagonist is shot and covered with blood.  This does not follow Aristotelian narrative because the scene from the beginning of the story looks like the end. I would like to criticize on the argument that post-structuralist leads to the decline in meta-narrative.

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By using the example Kill Bill Vol. 1, I would like to argue that that post-structuralist does not cause the decline in meta-narrative because the only change that separates it from traditional narrative is just the structure, but the plot is still intact. In Kill Bill Vol 1, there is a plot where all the sequences of events are link together despite the shift in its structure. Where despite of is destructive structure, it is still accepted by society. If post-structuralist really is the cause for the decline in grand narrative, why would Post-structuralist films such as the matrix, sin city and the inception became the overnight sensations that lure audiences to watch. Why are this movies effective in telling stories to audiences, how can this film receives such a big hit. The drawbacks of Post structuralist in my understanding means in scientific terms as the opportunistic infection to a narrative structure. However, the reason why narrative is suppose to follow beginning, middle and end is because of its reminiscence to real life. I begin to ask myself does virtual world  has to mimic real life?  the  most important purpose of visual narrative is to tell story. Post-structuralist narrative retain  plot and story thus, maintaining its purpose to tell story is for me a good enough reason call it a narrative.

In conclusion, Narrative is the theory designed to tell story, to convey message to audiences. It doesn’t matter how it is presented, there is no correct structure for storytelling. I think, narrative should be seen as a cultural realm. It is the society that will ultimately be the judges upon how narrative is suppose to be told.


References:
Ash, M.(1995).Gestalt psychology in German culture 1890-1967.Cambridge University Press, USA
Belsey, C. (2002). Poststructuralism: A very short introduction.Oxford University Press.Oxford.
Cobley, Paul.( 2001). Narrative. Routledge.london.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Week 6: Rhetoric and Persuasion

Media products such as documentaries, news and advertisement has stir consumer away into agreement that support their propositional interest. As a consumer, I have been compelled by the power of persuasion that has attracted me into believing what they have presented. I think documentaries has a great ability to possess its viewers, when watching documentaries, I always believe in every word they say without having any knowledge that the truth might be manipulated. The purpose of writing this journal is to argue that visual rhetoric is more powerful than verbal form of rhetoric. I also want to highlight that Aristotle presented a theory that allow the arguer to gain power in public. I wonder with such power that one are able to create mass persuasion, Will there any truth left in the argument and are we as viewers being fooled or being lied to by such power created by Rhetoric.the persuasive power of rhetoric are able to shape people's perception and are we as consumer really see the whole truth?


H.C Lawson-Tancred in his book titled  Aristotle the art of rhetoric stated that "Rhetoric is considered to be capable of intuition of the persuasiveness of, so to speak the given. The powerful tool of this theory lies in its enthymeme. Enthymeme is an incomplete syllogism that gives such orator and intelligence to the speaker". (Lawson-Tancred, 1991). Thus, an enthymeme works by leaving an unstated premise allowing the participation of interpreters by making them think, at the same time arguer gain such power knowing that interpreters will ultimately agree upon his or her proposition.


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This video is a controversial documentary by Michael Moore called Capitalism a love story. Some might argue that there is no visual rhetoric but documentary like this one opted to give viewers visual images that can stir emotions away, a series of visual evidence are presented to support the proposition. In Capitalism the love story, Michael Moore creates a proposition about the suffering of American citizen. Images showing the dark side of capitalism give the impression of negativity are presented in order to lure people’s mind into this argument. Moore presented audience with series of premises that act to support his proposition. His premises includes the exploitation of  the civilian where he ask "where is our money" referring to $700 billion bailout money. An enthymeme in this documentary will be capitalism is bad; it is a bias form of government system. This premise is not stated by Michael Moore but rather purposely leave it to audience to judge and knowing that with visual images he presented as evidences surely can persuade audience to support his proposition even though the evidences might not have truth nature in it. Pragmatics would allow the same subject to be transfer to a different context, if capitalism the love story is transfer into a verbal form for example a book. Surely, verbal form is indeed rhetoric but which one will give a powerful persuasion?

In book, readers are able to have a description about the proposition and arguer are able to shape emotions but will this emotion create a powerful impact as a visual images would have? I think in a verbal form of Capitalism a love story; readers might not have such great impact on persuasion because a visual form of rhetoric has given premises with images that surely make a huge emotional impact when images of suffrage, economic crisis and discrimination are being portrayed than a verbal form of the same element.The identification of those elements of dark side of capitalism  is even clearer with the use of visual images that can enhance one's emotions and people can relate to. Do people feel a lot of emotion reading than seeing the visual form of it? Like watching a twilight movie and reading the book, which one persuades us more? I think visual form absolutely influence me more. Visual rhetoric does exist and serve more powerful than traditional verbal form especially in documentary.



This is an advertisement for Dior perfume called the midnight poison. This advertisement uses actress Eva Green as their model, her image depicts the representation of a rare beauty. Her image connotes exotic, mysterious and curiosity. The body language shows that she is emerging from water which signified the uniqueness of her beauty as the new Cinderella which is link to the text “the new Cinderella is born”.  Dior intended to say that this is the modern look of a new Cinderella. Unlike a traditional Cinderella that has a generic looks of a blonde beauty. Dior might also intend to use this advertisement to act like a battleship to knock down their enemy. Business rivals include other perfume brand that offer a generic beauty. Dior explicitly want to say that “other brands doesn’t make you unique like we do and only we are able to offer you uniqueness”.
No doubt that this advertisement uses rhetoric to persuade people to buy the perfume, the representation of beauty here persuades people to buy the product by giving an inductive reasoning. Bruce N Walter in his book titled critical thinking consider the verdict (3rd edition) stated that" an inductive reasoning is a type of reasoning where one premise is enough to generalize the whole conclusion". (Walter,1998).
This is the inductive reasoning of this advert:

Eva Green is beautiful and exotic by wearing this perfume.
Therefore, everyone who wears this perfume will feel beautiful and exotic.

Dior and its advertiser inserted an enthymeme, where there is unstated premise for viewers to think about., knowing that the viewers will agree upon the proposition. The enthymeme here is that buy their perfume and the users will feel sexy, beautiful, exotic, unique and mysterious. Viewers might also think that this perfume is good and other brands are not. However, with all visual rhetoric has persuaded viewers to agree upon their proposition. How far truth are they giving to the consumers? Is it even true that this perfume is really good and other perfume brands are not. Do users really feel beautiful and exotic by wearing it. People do anything for a profitable purposes and honesty might not exist in the world  we know as business. The art of persuasion lead to the question of will the truth be prevail? Are viewers being fooled all this time by visual rhetoric? In my opinion, Such persuasive power that one possess give arguer the great ability to hinder  truth.




We live in a new millennium where things get more digital every day. No wonder that the art of persuasion are being transferred into visual forms. The power of these persuasive tools of rhetoric allows arguer to gain power and we as a consumer to this visual products has to be careful into believing what they present us with.

References:

Lawson-Tancred, H.C.(1991) Aristotle The Art Of Rhetoric. Penguin Classics. London.
Waller, Bruce N. (1998). Critical Thinking Consider the verdict 3rd edition. Simon & Schuster. New Jersey.