Posted by: brentatent12 | September 20, 2009

Pulitzer Prize Photo (1945): Marines Raise the Flag on Iwo Jima

1945: Joe Rosenthal, The Associated Press Marines Raise the Flag on Iwo Jima

1945: Joe Rosenthal, The Associated Press Marines Raise the Flag on Iwo Jima

One technique that Rosenthal uses is to show the contrast between light and dark areas of the image.  The sky is very bright; this helps to showcase the soldiers, rubble, and flag against it.  Also, the way the soldiers almost form a triangle helps to draw the viewers’ attention up and to where the flag is.  The rule of thirds states that when composing an image, you should imagine it’s divided into nine parts, aligning key details along the lines and intersections to help make the image more powerful.  When we apply this to “Marines Raise the Flag on Iwo Jima”, we can see that many of the lines and intersections correlate to the positioning of soldiers and the flag.  Also, they correlate with a portion of the blank sky which helps to further the contrast between the flag, soldiers, and rest of the image.

The photograph was taken on February 3, 1945 during World War II.  The raising of the flag helped to signify the high-water mark in one of World War II’s most devastating battle.  At the time of the photograph, the soldiers were actually replacing a smaller flag with this larger one per the request of their commander so that all the soldiers on the island could see it.  The flag was mounted atop, Mount Suribachi, a volcanic peak which was recently captured and was the highest on Iwo Jima.  The raising of the flag helped to boost morale and US hope of ending the war.

Rosenthal sent his film to Guam to be developed and printed.  Upon first setting eyes on the photo, AP photo editor John Bodkin exclaimed “Here’s one for all time!”, after which he immediately radiophotoed it to the Headquarters of the Associated Press in New York.  From there, it “was distributed by Associated Press within seventeen and one-half hours after Rosenthal shot it—an astonishingly fast turnaround time in those days.”  It was published in hundreds of newspapers.

Posted by: brentatent12 | September 13, 2009

Benetton Group: Unconventional Advertising

Benetton Ad

Benetton Ad

The Benetton Ads are, for the most part, very disturbing and at times revolting.  The concept behind the ads is interesting; using such stunning and horrifying images certainly does seem to get people’s attention, however, the thought alone of using social unrest and other peoples misfortune, such as the AIDS or Soldier ad is despicable and ethically immoral.  For this reason alone, I would not consider purchasing a product from Benetton.  They certainly work to develop band recognition with their ads, and perhaps achieve it.  When I think of their company, strange and out of the ordinary are things that first come to mind.  However, when I think of what they use as material for the ads, any appeal that may have been garnered by the uniqueness of their ads is immediately replaced by an overwhelming disgust of them because of their tactics.

I do not agree with Benetton’s definition of advertisement.  He says that it is to deal with institutional publicity to communicate the company’s values, however, I feel advertisement is all about promoting a product and brand—it has nothing to do with values.  Yes, if people feel that they are helping a ‘good cuase’ by purchasing a certain item, they may be more inclined to because of the psychological gratification they derive from it.  In Benetton’s case, however, they are not supporting causes, just using them to help further their agenda, which is ultimately to make money.  In this, I think that not only is Benetton’s definition incorrect, but that he is deluding himself if he thinks he’s not trying to sell more.  His approach to advertising does not work for me; it is both unethical, and turns me off to his brand instead  of helping to promote it.  On the other hand, some of the other ads he employs, such as the following one, I enjoy and think are acceptable.  It’s when things become unpleasant to look at and the company starts using a cause to its own benefit that it becomes unacceptable.

Benetton Ad II

Benetton Ad II

Posted by: brentatent12 | September 13, 2009

Focus on a Work of Art

Ron Mueck's Untitled (Big Man)

Ron Mueck's Untitled (Big Man)

Ron Mueck’s Big Man was a piece which I found particularly disturbing.  What caught my eye was just how grotesque and almost distorted it was.  I’m not sure if distorted is the best word to use to describe it—it’s enormous, and hideous in my opinion.  Not only that, but it looks sad or somber, almost as if it realizes just how revolting it is to behold.  Also, it kind of reminded me of a prison inmate, just listlessly sitting there against a wall with his big bald head displayed prominently for all to see.  It looks like he’s pondering something, not quite like The Thinker, but a much more trivial matter—perhaps why he is so obese, or maybe it’s what his next meal is going to be?

The Thinker

The Thinker

After doing some research into Mueck, I figured out that the Big Man was not the first of his strange creations.  He has also worked on such pieces as a baby, stuck to a wall as if he was being crucified, and a frail old woman who is curled in the fetal position under a blanket.  He created the Big Man toward the beginning of his two year residency as Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London.  He got the idea from a life drawing class that he did a drawing in.  He wondered how a sculpture he was working on would look different if he based it on a model instead of his usual photographs or references from books.  Ultimately, he decided upon the pose of the man because he thought it looked better then the “…phony and unnatural.” posses models generally strike.

Ron Mueck tries to create sculptures which provoke thought.  He likes them to have ‘presence’ instead of just being yet another sculpture.  He wants people to really contemplate them instead of just glancing at them briefly.  He says, “I don’t think of them as mannequins… But ultimately, they’re fiberglass objects that you can pick up and carry. If they succeed as fun things to have in the room, I’m happy.”  He goes on to say he wouldn’t be satisfied unless they had presence.  Although Mueck certainly does ‘interesting’ work, it’s not something that I really enjoy.  It’s very visually disturbing, and because of this, I’d prefer a different from of modern art, equally thought provoking, just in a different way.

Sources:  http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag03/jul_aug03/mueck/mueck.shtml

Posted by: brentatent12 | September 13, 2009

The Art Museum as a Space

The Hirshhorn Museum

The Hirshhorn Museum

As I looked around initially to take in my surroundings, I noticed people from all walks of life meandering throughout the museum.  There were businessmen dressed in suits and ties, and there were parents leading young children around like shepherd with their sheep.  Some of the children looked slightly interested for a little while, but there inevitably came a time when even the most patient of children could take it no longer; “when are were leaving?”, I could clearly hear them ask incredulously.  Also, there were some elderly couples, and self-proclaimed connoisseurs there as well; the latter gazing rapturously at a painting for at least ten minutes.  Finally, there were a few college students and younger people as well—most with a look of derision or befuddlement on their faces as they viewed the art.

Since there was a wide gamut of people at the museum which varied both geographically and socioeconomically, it was not easy to get a good read on any one given group of people.  However, if I were to guess some of their jobs, they could possibly range anywhere from menial labor and unpaid internships for some of the college students and younger people, to highly paid leaders of their industry for the businessmen and more professional looking.  Please keep in mind that this is purely speculation.  Some of the people stopped to read didactics; more notably they were elderly couples, and businessmen, with parents of tourist families as well.  Although some of the younger folk glanced at them, it was never for long for the most part.  John Berger defines mystification as “…the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident.”  He claims that cultural mystification makes images more remote, and in doing so, makes it more difficult for us to draw conclusions from history.  I believe that this idea ties into modern art, because it is difficult to understand the background of modern art many times because it seems so abstract and random.

Posted by: brentatent12 | August 30, 2009

Unsuccsessful Ad

An example of what I believe to be an unsuccessful ad.

An example of what I believe to be an unsuccessful ad.

I did not find this Ad very appealing.  I do not find the visual elements to be particularly strong, in fact, I don’t feel they help to promote the product being advertised well at all.  The Ad is for an energy drink, yet there is only a small image of the drink located on the bottom right-hand corner of the ad, while the majority of the image is filled by a table which a handbag prominently adorns.  To me, the image seems very confused.  It has a charisma of class and fashion to it, however, it seems more to me like the ad company is trying to promote a lifestyle more than a beverage.  This image is well described by the second principle of visual literacy; visuals are carefully arranged views of reality, not reality itself.  The Ad tries to evoke the feeling of a Hollywood actresses’ lifestyle, so you can interpret it two ways—either purchasing this energy drink will allow you to enjoy a rarified lifestyle, or only the wealthy can spare money on an unnecessary beverage.  The Ad elicits surprise for me—it seems like something which at first look, has deep and profound meeting, but upon closer examination is realized to be a sham.  The Ad does not appear to rely on any background knowledge from the viewer.  TAB Energy Drink is a subsidiary of Coca-cola which has an extremely distinctive logo.  The Ad for TAB was created by KIRSHENBAUM BOND + PARTNERS, USA, New York.  They have also worked on Ads for Biore and Starz Entertainment among others.  I believe the target audience for TAB Energy Drink is supposed to be women.  Overall, I found the Ad to be visually confusing and ultimately unsuccessful, because of the visuals used in its composition, its undefined tone, and it’s unclear subject matter.

Starz Logo

Biore Ad

Posted by: brentatent12 | August 30, 2009

Successful Ad

An example of what I believe to be a successful ad.

An example of what I believe to be a successful ad.

I believe that this is a successful Ad.  It is visually appealing with a range of colours, and utilizes negative space well.  The image of the Zune HD reminds me of of Apple’s cover flow in the way the different views of it are presented.  The Ad is trying to market a particular image; it’s trying to convey the message that Microsoft can produce a slick looking product just like the Apple iTouch.  Principle four of the Seven Principles of Visual Literacy, visual messages are conveyed through both form and content, may be found in this Ad.  Not only does the Ad have images of the Zune HD, the product which is being sold, but there layout is also very pleasing to the eye.  The Ad elicits anticipation for the Zune HD—at the time of this writing the Zune HD has not yet been released.  The Ad relies on the viewer to have a basic knowledge of technology; more specifically, knowledge of what mp3 players are currently available on the market.  Microsoft is most well known for its Windows computers and X-Box game consoles.  Its logo is very simple and easily recognizable along with its Windows logo as well.  McCann-Erickson is the advertising agency responsible for Zune Ads.  Other companies they have worked for include Sony, MasterCard, and Salvation Army among others.  The target audience for the Zune HD will be anyone interested in touchscreen enabled portable mp3 players, this user base consisting mainly of teenagers and young adults.  Overall, I find the Ad to be successful—it inspires interest about the product and could help to prompt further research and possibly facilitate a later purchase.  It is pleasing to the eye and has a balanced use of visual elements.

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