Tag Archives: anchorage

Exercise 4.4

The brief:
Over the space of a few weeks gather newspapers that you can cut up, preferably including a mixture of different political points of view. Have a look through and cut out some images without their captions. You could choose advertising images or news.

For each image, write three or four different captions that enable you to bend the image to different and conflicting points of view.

What does this tell you about the power of text and image combinations?

Now write some text that re-contextualises these images and opens them up to alternative interpretations.

Write some notes in your learning log about this exercise. How might you use what you’ve learnt to add a new dimension to your own work?

Fig 1: CBC News
  • North Vancouver RCMP arrest perpetrator in Monday’s shooting
  • Police arrest man at airport after immigration confusion
  • Man cleared of groping woman on SkyTrain is re-arrested
  • Drug dealer arrested in upper class neighbourhood
Fig 2 CBC News
  • Canada and Mexico arrive at G20 summit together
  • Canada and Mexico to sign a new trade agreement
  • Enrique Pena Nieto and Justin Trudeau to make a stand on NAFTA agreement
Fig 3: Vancouver Sun
  • Premier Christy Clark has a new man in her life
  • Premier Christy Clark enjoying a laugh with fellow colleague at Canucks Hockey Night
Fig 4: Metro Vancouver
  • Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank entrepreneur, Kevin O’Leary announces special scholarship to encourage entrepreneurial studies in Canadian universities
  • Shark Tank entrepreneur, Kevin O’Leary gives speech after ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange
  • Dragon’s Den entrepreneur, Kevin O’Leary answers questions from the press about his forthcoming photography book
Fig 5: Metro Vancouver
  • Subway to take part in Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in July. Each store will give away 150 free foot-long sandwiches on July 1, 2017 – a limitation of one per person.
  • Subway to open 150 new branches during 2017 in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.
  • Subway and Tim Horton’s plan a merger
Fig 6: North Shore News
  • West Vancouver’s Fire and Rescue unit to relocate
  • West Vancouver’s Fire and Rescue to hold a Fill the Boot drive to raise funds towards new equipment for the burn unit at Lions’ Gate Hospital
  • Council slashes budget for West Vancouver’s Fire and Rescue unit. Public protests expected

All the images I have used are very open-ended and without any accompanying text really leave themselves wide open to any amount of interpretation. I think for some of the articles better images might have been chosen, e.g. Fig 1 is so generic. There is absolutely nothing that hints at an illegal border crossing. I don’t think this was done to protect the individuals as this story has consistently been on our news lately and the actual refugees that have been crossing over have been interviewed and shown on TV, so a still from the newscast might have been preferable.

All these images have needed a strong anchorage by way of the caption confirming the ‘who, what, why, where and when’ (Bull p 40) of the image.

If my object in my work is to create ambiguity then I would create a vague caption that allows the viewer to put down his/her own interpretation to the image. If I was doing work more of a documentary nature and wanted to convey a precise message I would very clearly think out an appropriate caption that directed the viewer to the correct level of interpretation.

Fig 1’s actual caption is: A growing number of people have been arriving at Canada-U.S. land borders to claim refugee status, but officials can’t say how many people are sneaking in – or how many are being allowed to stay.

Fig 2’s actual caption is: As of March 9, the Canada Border Services Agency has detained more Mexican refugee seekers than in all of 2016. In June 2016, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.

Fig 3’s actual caption is: British Columbia Premier, Christy Clark, left and Telus Corp. President and CEO Darren Entwhistle share a laugh before he announced a $1-billion investment to connect the majority of homes and businesses in Vancouver directly to a gigabit fibre optic network, during a company event in 2015.

Fig 4’s actual caption is: Conservative leadership candidate, Kevin O’Leary speaks at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ont. on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (To provide a little more perspective he was speaking about the uncovering of fraudulent Conservative Party members after voter-rigging had taken place – we currently have a party leadership race happening here).

Fig 5’s actual caption is: Subway says its chicken is just that: chicken. But a CBC Marketplace story said it found 50 percent of the chicken is soy filler.

Fig 6’s actual caption is: Two Douglas fir trees that tower behind the District of West Vancouver’s Fire Station No 4 are the subject of a legal dispute.

Reference List

Bull, S (2010) Photography. London: Routledge

Images

Figure 1. Chiasson, P. (2017) A growing number of people have been arriving at Canada-U.S. land borders to claim refugee status, but officials can’t say how many people are sneaking in – or how many are being allowed to stay. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/asylum-seekers-statistics-difficult-to-track-1.4028468 [Accessed 18 March, 2017]

Figure 2. Wattie, C. (2017) As of March 9, the Canada Border Services Agency has detained more Mexican refugee seekers than in all of 2016. In June 2016, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mexican-refugees-canada-detained-1.4031389 [Accessed 18 March, 2017]

Figure 3. Dyck, D. (2015) British Columbia Premier, Christy Clark, left and Telus Corp. President and CEO Darren Entwhistle share a laugh before he announced a $1-billion investment to connect the majority of homes and businesses in Vancouver directly to a gigabit fibre optic network, during a company event in 2015. Available at: http://vancouversun.com/business/local-business/big-liberal-donors-are-doing-big-business-with-the-b-c-government [Accessed 18 March, 2017]

Figure 4. Hagberg, L. (2017) Conservative leadership candidate, Kevin O’Leary speaks at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ont. on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Available at: http://www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/2017/03/16/o-leary-alleges-vote-rigging-in-conservative-leadership-campaign.html [Accessed 18 March, 2017]

Figure 5. Getty Images (n.d.) Subway says its chicken is just that: chicken. But a CBC Marketplace story said it found 50 percent of the chicken is soy filler. Available at: http://www.metronews.ca/news/canada/2017/03/17/subway-plans-to-sue-cbc-over-chicken-findings.html [Accessed 18 March, 2017]

Figure 6. Wakefield, M. (2017) Two Douglas fir trees that tower behind the District of West Vancouver’s Fire Station No 4 are the subject of a legal dispute. Available at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/couple-sues-west-vancouver-officials-for-tree-removal-1.11805348 [Accessed 18 March, 2017]

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Research Point 1

The brief:

Read ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ and write a reflection in your learning log.

  • How does Barthes define anchorage and relay?
  • What is the difference between them?
  • Can you come up with some examples of each?
  • How might this help your own creative approaches to working with text and image?

I wrote a reflection on the ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ in the Context & Narrative module which was summarized here, so I will confine my comments to anchorage and relay on this posting as I did not cover them in great detail during that posting.

In the context of today’s mass media communication every image carries some form of linguistic message. The function of the linguistic message can either be anchorage or relay. All images have any number of meanings (polysemous) which are conveyed to the viewer by means of signfiers and signifieds. Some the viewer will understand, some he/she may choose to ignore due to cultural differences or ignorances. The text in the image helps the viewer to answer the question “what is it?”

Anchorage is used mainly in press photographs and advertisements. The function of the text is to draw the viewer to a directed level of perception, thereby avoiding an incorrect interpretation of the image.

An example of this would be:

Fishing at St. Lucia, Kwa-Zulu, South Africa (c) Lynda Kuit

The caption above is directional in that it names the activity taking place as well as the location, province and country. Were the caption to be only “Fishing” or “Fishing at St. Lucia” that would leave the actual location quite wide open to questions. Is this location in St Lucia in the Caribbean one might ask if questioning the latter caption? By anchoring the text specifically to the town of St Lucia in the province of Kwa-Zulu in the country of South Africa, the viewer is left in no doubt as to the correct interpretation of the image.

Language clearly has a function of elucidation, but this elucidation is selective, a metalanguage applied not to the totality of the iconic message but only to certain of its signs.

Barthes (p. 40)

Relay is less common and is usually found in comics and cartoons as well as in film. Here the text and image stand in a complementary relationship to each other and usually require a bit more introspection to figure out the connections between the two. If I were to add the caption “Awaiting the big one” to the image above, the meaning would be quite ambiguous. The viewer would be left wondering if the text referred to the looming storm or the persistent fisherman at the shore’s edge waiting to catch his big fish of the day.

This use of anchorage and relay text can certainly play an important part in how one wants ones images to be read. Looking back at my C&N assignments I see that I have used a mix of anchorage and relay text. My assignment 3 relied totally on relay text. Looking back, except for the title of C&N’s assignment 2, I did not shoot with any caption in mind. The captions always came at the end of the editing process. I can’t really say how thinking about these approaches to text and images will affect my way of working, except that I might think a little deeper into how I want my images to be interpreted – to what level do I want to direct the viewer or leave the interpretation open to the viewer’s authorship.

Reference List

Barthes, Roland (1977). Rhetoric of the Image in Image, music, text. London: Fontana Press