Introducing you to my Visual Essay

For my second experiment, I am switching what I planned to do on Thursday and am going to write a visual analysis on two images taken during the Kavanaugh hearings.  A visual analysis breaks down the components of an image and conveys an understanding of what those components symbolize and are trying to communicate to the audience. The three steps to a visual essay are describing, responding, and analyzing. First, you must describe the subject looking at colors and shading, background, people and places, and arrangements of the elements on the page. After you describe, you then must respond to the description. This section includes reacting to the image and seeing how it made you feel and think. It is then important to include context and analyze the image and the purpose it holds. The thesis should contain the main idea that surrounds the understanding of the visual subject.

 

https://essaybasics.com/how-to-write-a-visual-analysis-essay/

 

Here are the two photos I plan on analyzing and comparing in my visual analysis

These two photos are of the same act, Brett Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford being sworn in, but have very different angles, backgrounds, and evoke different reactions. Comparing these two images side by side represent the discrepancies and injustices between men and women in our society and the societal structures that enforce them. I will also be able to use the biases in my analysis and explain how they evoke sympathy and demand attention from the public, a strategy that journalists and newsmakers use.

I think this genre will be perfect for my topic because it will allow me to use and analyze the visuals I want to include as well as incorporate the two biases of personalization and authority disorder bias. Having images is a huge component of my origin piece. I will touch on the biases that draw people’s attention to the media, and a visual analysis will fit those topics them in seamlessly. Excited to hear what you guys think 🙂

Analyzing Modes of Communication in Everyday Texts

While reading the Writer/Designer textbook I was challenged to pay particular attention to the unique ways in which information is been presented to me, in order to compare and contrast how different texts use modes to communicate ideas. Sitting in class, I looked at the different ways in which teachers display their lessons. Scrolling through Facebook, I looked at the different mediums in which I learned about the latest news from friends, family members, and even businesses. I even spent more time analyzing videos, fliers, and stickers on computers.

The first text that I noticed was chapter from my Writer/Designer that I had just finished reading. It is formatted as a textbook, with visual aids throughout the paragraphs. Throughout the chapter I noticed these modes being used:

  • Spatial
  • Linguistic
  • Visual

I’ve attached an example of a visual aid used within the chapter to describe the topic of multimodality. The spatial mode accounts for how the authors arranged the text, using a circular visual aid on the right, with accompanying text on the left. This decision makes me believe that the authors wanted to describe the aid first, giving insight on what it is depicting since a reader usually looks from the left to the right. The linguistic mode accounts for the author’s word choice that is relatively basic and informal, which is indicative of the broad audience of those attempting to better their writing skills in an educational manner. The visual mode accounts for the images chosen to represent information, which in this case is bright and colorful, looking to draw and retain the reader’s attention.

I continued to look at texts other than my textbook in the same manner. On a Facebook page called Jewlish, a media source for both modern and traditional Jewish recipes and food-related news, I watched a video on how to make Apple Challah because of the recent High Holiday, Rosh Hashanah. While watching the video, found at https://www.facebook.com/sojewlish/videos/856792114478285/ , I noticed these modes being used:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic
  • Aural
  • Gestural

The spatial mode accounts for how the bowls, spoons, and ingredients are arranged throughout the video, in a visually appealing and neat manner. The visual mode accounts for the black background, gray table, and clear bowls that are used in order to not distract the viewer from the actual food. The linguistic mode is less prevalent with this medium and is only used to allow the viewer to read the ingredients and amount being used for the recipe. The aural mode accounts for the background music that is light and fun, as well as the exclusion of sounds that would be made if someone were actually cooking. The gestural mode, in this case, is the hand motions of the actor making the food uses throughout his cooking, that are precise and professional.

In an online flier for the Mass Meeting for an entrepreneurial club on campus, called InnovateUM, I noticed several modes being used, despite its simplicity:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic

The spatial mode is seen with the arrangement of the words in order to draw attention to the club name and the reason for the flier, the mass meeting. I think this decision of arrangement is used because if the reader is interested in the club and going to the mass meeting, then they will read on to see the date, time, and place of the event. The visual mode accounts for the color choice, using maize and blue as a homage to the University of Michigan, and the choice of using a gear and lightbulb in order to represent innovation, the basis of the club. Although there are only a few words on the online flier, they fit into the linguistic mode and show a precise use of language.

Over the weekend I read a review article for a product, called SafeSound Personal Alarm, I was looking into buying. The alarm acts as a substitution for pepper spray in states that it is illegal to carry. The article gives a personal account from a user as well as facts on the product and can be read here. I noticed these modes throughout the reading:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic

The author of the article, in my opinion, had little consideration for the spatial arrangement of the information. Text and pictures, as well as hyperlinks to other pages were crowded throughout the webpage, making it hard to read as there were many distractions. This was a problem for me with the visuals on the page too, which were important to include because they showed the product, but too large which also distracted me from other information. The linguistic aspect was a series of choices that led to a more informal tone, even when presenting facts, which I thought was important in order to appeal to the audience of mostly women looking to purchase a product to put their minds at ease from attackers.

While scrolling through Facebook and stalking friends of friends this weekend, I came across my a picture my sister’s friend from high school posted. It was of her and her husband on their wedding day. In the picture I noticed these modes at work:

  • Visual
  • Spatial
  • Gestural
  • Linguistic

As a picture, the visual mode is indicative of most of the information being presented. Even though she did not write, “I just got married,” that is the news that is brought to light. From a spatial and gestural perspectives, the arrangement of them as a couple and how they are interacting with each other, shows their love for each other. At first glance, I didn’t notice a linguistic aspect to the picture, but after further examination, I realized that the signage in the background gives key information of the place, Buffalo. In addition, the watermark in the bottom right corner shows the viewer who the photographer is.

Looking comparatively at each mode used to convey information, I noticed that there was much crossover between what the perceived genres are and the modes used. For example, every text includes visual, spatial, and linguistic modes regardless if it is a video, photograph, textbook, article, or flier. It was just the extent of the use of the mode that differed. The only modes that were unique were aural, that was only included in the video from Jewlish, and gestural, that was seen whenever people were physically involved such as the cook from Jewlish and the man and woman in their wedding photos. However often each mode appeared, they all gave further insight on the subject they were attempting to explain.

Addicted to Houzz

After working as a in intern at a cabinetry and tile store this past summer, I am very familiar with the website Houzz. I used to have to update a Houzz account regularly for my internship, but after a while, I began visiting the website in my free time as well. In short, this website provides visitors with home decor and architectural inspiration and information. The layout and functionality of the website are very appealing, and despite being image heavy, it provides its visitors with an abundance of information.
The top of the home page displays the different pages that exist on the website (i.e. bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc.). There is also a search bar so that people can search for specific styles or items (i.e. spanish kitchen, mediterranean house, etc.). If you continue to scroll down the home page, you are greeted by a variety of images with short textual captions. There is a combination of articles, household object descriptions, house tours, landscape tours, and more. The images are set up in a consistent pattern: 3 rows with 3 images followed by one row with a large image (repeat, repeat, repeat). This simple, recurring layout helps the visitor to not feel overwhelmed by the variety of stories and options on the home page. After clicking on an image, a short description typically pops up, as well as additional information that may be relevant, such as pricing, location, style, and similar pictures or stories. This website appeals to me because one can mindlessly scroll through the site for pleasure and inspiration without ever running out of content to view, or one can visit the website with a specific goal in mind and accomplish it quickly. This website also strikes the perfect balance between text and image, allowing the viewer to first see more image, and then see more text only after clicking the image or seeking further detail about the image.