Informational Design

by 10:31 AM 0 comments
An unfiltered reaction to the chapter (and a parenthetical case for interpretation).
(The chapter in question is CH. 1 from Practices of Looking by Sturken and Cartwright)

When I first started reading the chapter, I was worried that it wouldn’t be interesting. The reason? Easy: Why do I need to know how to look? I’ve been doing it for 30 years. I’ve been a “looker-of-things” and for the most part, I know what I’m looking at... right?

But, as the chapter progressed, the story being told was more about why there is meaning behind the symbols being represented. And representation “is thus a process through which we construct the world around us.” Why do we associate certain images with symbols (the word “pipe” is associated with a photo of a pipe, is the representation of an actual pipe at some time and space)?

Michael Stephens (@VSauce) did a TED talk that I showed to my students this week, and a question he has asked deals with “What makes a color, a color?” Is the red I see different than the red you see (what I may call green)? So, the meaning behind the symbol is representative of the person you are.

I did have some confusion with the thought of photographic truth being a myth. The argument made suggested that even photographs are biased because the photographer choosing the framing, focus, and “mood” (for lack of better term) of what will be photographed. While I agree with that statement, and that a photograph can tell many “truths”, when the photograph takes the images and saves that image to the medium (paper) then that has to be the truth for that set of circumstances. I feel the book was trying to add more to an image than what could have been interpreted by the original photographer (putting words into the mouth of the photographer, so-to-speak).

As the yearbook adviser, I instruct students to take “candid” photos, and what is represented in those photos is supposed to be the “truth” of what is happening with those students at that time. And then I get the cheesy, mug-shot pose.

The book goes on to offer that while photos can give you a glimpse of the history (as I agree with), they also offer a magical quality to contemporary viewers. This goes back to the last statement: interpretation includes the viewer’s own history, and I don’t think the text elaborated on this enough.

The explanations of Barthe’s model of interpretation added to the connotation and denotation added a sign (the signifier of an image, word, sound; and the signified is what is being represented). Really what this means is that there are many levels to the image - and they are intentional.

I was intrigued by the value of images, because this leaves out (probably because of the publication date) a lot of the ways digital images gain value: Internet hits and subsequent attention from other sources. If I refer back to Stephen’s work, the value of his YouTube channel was probably, at one point, zero. Through internet hits, his unique take on answering obscure questions became valuable. And became replicable (there are two other “Vsauce” spinoffs).

I think this topic could nicely blend into (and obviously, the editors of the book agreed) the idea of an iconic image. Whereas, the image is so repeatable and attainable that it is mimicked. Because of the relationship between the new interpretation of the iconic image, we are creating value and meaning for these images; which brings us full circle to the story from chapter 1.



I do a lot of things. The best thing I do is fathering (I think). I'm the ol' "Jack of all trades, Master of none." I teach aspiring journalists. I run. I play guitar(s). I also host a running podcast. Oh, and I dabble in drawing. And I dabble in authoring... children's books no less. I just dabble. Sometimes I ramble.


Post a Comment