We covered rhetorical images in the last post but are similar since the article has the same basic principles as the last one. How does an image make you feel, and what makes you feel that way? You can get the answer by breaking down the image according to the context, audience, and the purpose of the image, and the feeling that it is trying to convey and instill into the person. I feel like a broken record when discussing the concept of visual rhetoric since it all feels the same
“A picture can paint a thousand words, but a few words can change the story”
The quote explains this concept well since what you can get from the image can depend on the context, and the rhetorical strategies used. But what makes an image so powerful? What gives an image its power to a feeling?
Just like the reading from Cohn, the reading “Psychology of Rhetorical Images” mentions the difference between information and what is most apparent to the viewer. For instance, the difference between the most or least vivid information. Simply put, what is the most realistic information and what is the least realistic, like statistics. Images land more on the most vivid information part of the scale because it is a photograph of experience (below).
“…advertisers want to transform people… they want to compel people to buy a product without knowing why… as a visceral response to a stimulus, not as a conscious decision.”
Hill explains that pictures give an emotional and a stimulative response saying that the feeling you get isn’t a conscious decision, but rather how we feel in the moment without thought. Emotion is not this thing that can be thought about and controlled in the moment, but rather it is just what you feel.
What emotional response does the picture below give you? A happy feeling? Inner peacefulness? Maybe the feeling comes from the older man’s expressions, or maybe it is the bunny on his head that gives the image a more light-hearted feeling. What does the image bring to the table in terms of context? Rhetoric in images is broken down between purpose, context, audience, and the subcategories in those like tone and location.
To me, this image spoke out to me since I was looking for an image that would not be too hard to describe or investigate. It is perfect due to the casual nature of the image’s background, and the happy subject in the foreground. The context doesn’t need to be known down to the “T”, but visual representation can hold power in the emotion it gives off.