Exercise 4.2

The brief:

Choose a day that you can spend out and about looking with no particular agenda. Be conscious of how images and texts are presented to you in the real world – on billboards, in magazines and newspapers, and online, for example. Make notes in your learning log on some specific examples and reflect upon what impact the text has on how you read the overall message.


  • Does the text close the image down (i.e. inform or direct your reading) or open it up (i.e. allow for your personal interpretation to pay a part in creating the final meaning)?
  • What do you think was the intention of the creator in each instance?

We have been blessed with epic rainfalls these last two months and I’ve been trying to catch a day where there was no rainfall, but that isn’t happening soon it seems. So what I’ve done is take a few images en route to work and a few more on a very blustery day – all from within the car. I specifically avoided taking photographs of images that surround me on a daily and personal basis as that would be too overwhelming. I’m surrounded by books at work and home (mainly cook books and my photography books) all heavily imaged, as well as the images I deal with both at work and during my studies.

What I noticed was that there was not a lot of imagery used with the text, other than in the way of logos for the most part (Fig 1 and 3).  I would probably have found more if I had walked along next to shops, or photographed into shop windows. The one place that I did find the most imagery and text used together was on the back of the buses, advertising various estate agencies. For the most part the images that I managed to photograph were directional – the signs along the beach seawall (Fig 4 and 5) were iconic explaining what was allowed and prohibited – no cycling, no skateboarding, no fishing, no smoking, no dogs  and finally a direction pointing the way where dogs on leash would be allowed. The icons are necessary due to the multicultural society we have here in Vancouver and they are clear enough for anyone to understand no matter what language or country they come from. A further explanatory ‘no dogs beyond a certain point’ sign was situated fairly close to the first sign, this one explaining the icon in clear English.

The flags along the light posts (Fig 2) featured more graphical content with some explanatory text. The first advertising the annual 5 and 10 kilometre run in West Vancouver. The front of the sign features a woman running with the relevant text and URL while the rear side of the image features the words “WestVan” to reaffirm the location. Another set of flags (Fig 6) featured on the light posts were at one of the shopping complexes. The graphic features the snowy mountains of North Vancouver with an alpine scene in the foreground with the words “Park Royal”. This sign would probably be ambiguous for a tourist or new comer to the country, but not so to the locals.

The sign for Khot-la-Cha Art Gallery (Fig 7) contained images which were backed up by accompanying captions which provide an informative role as some of the items would not necessarily be easily identifiable for the tourist. Of course road signs (Fig 8) should leave no room for ambiguity at all otherwise we would have chaos.

The graphical element in Fig 9 may be a little ambiguous for non Canadians. It may even just represent a weathered old sign reading “Yoshi’s Salmon Smokehouse”, but it is a large cedar plank with a salmon carved into it alongside the name. Salmon are frequently barbecued on planks of wet cedar to impart a smoky flavour to the fish, so this sign really alludes to the smoking process as well as informing us of the name of the establishment.

My final image (Fig 11) is of an anti-Trump protest outside the new Trump Hotel that opened on that day. Protesters have created banners and images voicing their opinions, some ambiguously stated or depicted, others leaving no doubt as to their feelings.

Fig 1
Fig 2
Fig 3
Fig 4
Fig 5
Fig 6
Fig 7
Fig 8
Fig 9
Fig 10
Fig 11





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