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The Viewing Section. Strategies. Visual Codes In Still Images. Symbolic Codes Written Codes Technical codes. Symbolic Codes.

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visual codes in still images
Visual Codes In Still Images

Symbolic Codes

Written Codes

Technical codes

symbolic codes
Symbolic Codes

The body language between the two fighters indicates the binary: power and submission. Ali has the power shown through his flexing of his biceps over his submissive competitor.

  • Body language, facial expressions, stance, eye contact
  • Settings/Locations
  • Costumes
  • Colour
  • Props (objects that may be symbolic)
  • The weather in a particular image/scene (e.g. cloudy, rain, rainbow etc)

In this case, the colour red, symbolises power, but also violence and physicality (red being the colour of blood). The white worn by Ali, is the colour of innocence and ‘goodness’. Due to Ali wearing this colour, it implies that his victory is the ‘right’ victory and is supported by the audience behind Ali. The boxing gloves are also symbolic because they represent masculinity and power.

what symbolic codes were used
What symbolic codes were used?
  • The setting: the beach represents Australia’s coastal lifestyle
  • The Australian Flag: represents patriotism
  • The weather: the sunshine reflects the joy of the Australian culture
  • The girls are all Caucasian: represents that in spite of our ‘multicultural’ society, a racial tension exists.
written codes
Written Codes
  • Headlines
  • Captions
  • Speech bubbles
  • Punctuation

Also try to identify specific language devices: instruction, adjective, rhetorical question, quote from an expert etc

what written codes were used
What written codes were used?
  • The slogan: Just Do It. This is also a command urging people to take a risk, or to persevere in spite of obstacles.
  • Pistorius’s testimonial: tells us of the physical obstacles he’s faced, but also explains how he has chosen to use this as an advantage.
  • Selection of language: he uses words that remind the audience of war e.g. ‘war’, ‘courage’, ‘weapon’, ‘conquer’
technical codes
Technical Codes
  • Camera angles/shots
  • Lighting
  • Focus (what elements in the scene are in focus and what are out of focus?)

In this image, the photographer has used an extreme close-up on the hands. The background is blurred, focusing the audience on the handclasp. The natural lighting has cast thin black shadows in the background. Shadows are a secondary representation of a person, so you could argue that the black shadows represent the forgotten issues of third world countries starving, while first world countries prosper.

do not forget
  • Make sure you identify the context (where the image possibly came from or what event/issue the image is referring to.)
  • Also mention what the purpose of the image is: to raise awareness? To capture an historic moment? To sell a product? To change viewers’ behaviour?
  • Explicitly state this in your introduction!!!
  • You will get points if you can mention how this may affect the audience’s response to the image. Also consider the time period the image came from. Has the meaning changed for modern audiences viewing this?
what is the context purpose of this image
What is the context/purpose of this image?

Context: Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969. The mission was part of the US ‘space-race’ with the USSR. The US wanted to show the USSR that it was more technologically advanced.

The purpose of the image was to celebrate America’s achievement and the achievement of the human race. But the purpose was also to intimidate the USSR.

Now there are conspiracy theories that suggest America faked the moon landings. For contemporary audiences this image may incite anger against the US. Even if you don’t believe the theories, you could still interpret this image as yet another example of the arrogance of the US.

what devices are used in documentaries
What devices are used in documentaries?
  • Actuality footage
  • Reconstructed footage
  • Archival footage
  • Camera angles/shots
  • Editing
  • Lighting
  • Soundtrack
  • Narrative structure
  • Actuality footage: this is the footage shot in real time as the events occurred
  • Reconstructed footage: where actors re-enact an event from the past and it is filmed
  • Archival footage: photographs, film, letters, newspaper articles (etc) from the past that are included in the documentary
  • When a documentary is created, they do not present all the footage in the exact order that it was filmed.
  • Some footage is removed completely.
  • Some scenes that were filmed at the end of the filming process, may actually be presented at some other point in the documentary.
  • Sometimes two scenes will be edited so they are presented one after the other as if they were connected, but they may not have actually been connected at all.

Ask yourself: What footage may have been excluded? Why have particular scenes been placed next to one another? What events have not been filmed? Which interviews have been included and with whom?

examples from painted babies
Examples from Painted Babies
  • Brooke’s mother says, ‘It’s something we all look forward to.’ Then, the camera cuts to a close-up of Brooke yawning and looking bored and tired.
  • At the pageant, the toddlers stand in a line and parade in front of the judges. Then the scene changes showing footage of the MC, Tim Wittner smiling in a predatory manner.
  • Brooke’s mother is horrified that Asia’s parents have dressed Asia in ‘cut outs’ saying ‘It’s a no-no.’ The scene changes to Brooke wearing a halter top and mini-skirt.
  • Asia’s father says, ‘I’d like to see her in a pair of chaps.’ The camera remains on his face for an extended time to suggest that the documentary makers are horrified at this statement.
  • The opening sequence is a montage of images of toddlers in skimpy outfits, heavy make-up with their mothers pointing and yelling at them.
  • In Painted Babies the ones to remember are:
  • The interviews with Brook’s family and Asia’s family
  • The interviews with the pageant judges/organisers
  • Hey Big Spender
  • Voiceovers
  • Interviews
  • Music
narrative structure
Narrative Structure
  • An archetypical narrative (a familiar narrative recycled).
  • A conflict or problem that needs to be solved. The documentary usually promises to solve it.
  • A competition/rivalry. This keeps the viewer engaged because they want to find out the outcome.

Painted Babies uses the rivalry between Brooke and Asia to tell the story. This is clever because it also highlights how destructive competition is for the girls. It also highlights the pushing parenting because the rivalry is most strongly felt between the mothers, not Brooke and Asia.

how the assessment is structured
How the assessment is structured

Remember, in this section you have to answer ONE question, that has TWO components.

  • Part a) requires you to respond to an image provided by the exam.
  • Part b) requires you to respond to a visual text you have studied in class (in your case, Painted Babies)

Question 1

  • With reference to at least one of the images provided, discuss how images can challenge or reinforce viewers’ expectations.
  • Your response should:
  • Identify specifically what expectations are being challenged or reinforced
  • Explain how visual codes/conventions portray ideas
  • Explain how at least one visual text you have studied influences your response to a particular social issue.
  • Your response should:
  • Identify specifically what social issue you are discussing
  • Explain how visual codes/conventions influenced your response
what am i being assessed on
What am I being assessed on?

Your understandings of:

  • How visual conventions have been used to communicate meaning. To score highly, you need to use 3-4 examples of techniques.
  • How the visual techniques have manipulated your response (audience response) to the image
  • Context and purpose
  • Alternative readings
  • Written expression

REMEMBER: you need to do more than just identify the techniques! You then need to discuss what information the audience receives from the use of these techniques.

what else should i be discussing in my response
What else should I be discussing in my response?

There is no way of predicting what question you’ll be asked, however , here are a list of possible ideas/concepts you should look for and discuss in your response:

Representations of power

Representations of gender (men and women)

Representations of particular cultural groups (religious groups, age, subcultures, racial groups etc)

Values and attitudes

The action the image wants viewers to take on an issue/problem

Also look to see whether a particular event (e.g. Australia Day, WW1 etc) has been represented in a particular way