Course Blog – Open or Closed? Either way there will be moderation of comments from outside the course.
Perform phenomenological and structural analysis of a series of related fashion magazine ads: at least 3 consecutive photos from a single company. The reason we went with these instead of single ads is that the series helps reveal the visual language of the ads, that is, those characteristics that persist across that particular series of ads.
- Who is behind these photos (their creator)? What do we know about them?
- What are the creators trying to say?
- Who are these photos for? (be specific)
- How do you differ from the “normal” audience?
- How might Australian aboriginal villagers react to these photos?
Lifeword – sum of all experiences that a person has, sum of a person’s horizons
Horizon – a particular aspect of a lifeworld
The underlying assumption is that groups of people share lifeworlds or at least horizons in some way. We are in some way incapable of knowing things by themselves. We must access things through our senses, we can only understand what our senses tell us about an object. Our senses do not provide objective data, their are filters in place.
Example: The Gods Must Be Crazy [title?] – Film where a pilot throws a Coke bottle outside a window and it lands near an aboriginal tribe. They believe the bottle is cursed and attempt to throw it off the end of the world. The lifeworld of the pilot and that of the tribesmen are wildly different. In one, the bottle is a simple and disposable tool (pilot) and in the other the bottle represents an evil curse from the heavens (tribesmen).
How does the student analyst differ from the normal audience? A student analyst is subject to a different lifeworld with unique rewards and expectations that help draw unique meanings and expectations from the images.
Hermeneutics – The projected lifeworld of a viewer of an ad with that of an analyst combined to create meaning of that ad is an example of hermeneutics discourse.
UPDATE: I just wanted to add to this that most of these issues are in some way external to the artifact (in this case, sequence of fashion ads) itself. Meaning resides and is made in people’s heads, and we don’t learn too much about the artifact in this kind of analysis. –jb
Oppositions are central to a structuralist approach. What meanings develop between the opposition in the relationships?
Do structuralists find meaning through language? Language provides a means for description but only has meaning when put out into the wild in relation to one another. Definitions are created in relation and opposition to other concepts.
The pictures only have meaning through the relationships and oppositions that were constructed. These relationships themselves are constructed upon other relationships and so on and so forth. If you do not have access to a vocabulary of relationships and oppositions, then you can not see those meanings. There is no common, objective reality.
If we were to analyze thousands of fashion images over a period of months and constructed their relationships and oppositions and identified the preferred meanings, would we be able to create a language of fashion?
Synchronic – singular snapshot in time (structuralism and semiotics are synchronic)
Diachronic – develops over time (like the history of English drama)
Update: Again, let me point out how much these issues pertain directly to features/characteristics of the artifact itself. This approach is a “close reading” where you really study the specific characteristics of an artifact and ask how those characteristics, or more specifically the relationships (e.g., opposition, priviliging) among these characteristics, produce meaning. In this approach, meaning seems to inhere in objects, that is, objectively out there in reality and waiting to be discovered. This approach tells us much less about people involved with this artifact, such as their creators, consumers, and so on. –jb