Write a Discussion Post
Stuart Hall, “Representation. The construction of meaning” and Gillian Rose, chapter one in Visual Methodologies.
Watch on YouTube the two documentaries below:
John Berger: Ways of seeing Episode 1
John Berger: Ways of seeing Episode 4
Write a 2 pages discussion post. The post must be just like the sample post below:
In Researching Visual Materials Stuart Hall is quoted stating that “culture depends on participants interpreting meaningfully what is around them and making sense of the world” (page 2). As individuals we are constantly looking to “make sense of the world’ and without “typing” others it would be impossible to do so, (page 37, Hall). However, we are also searching for true meaning or the true knowledge of the world which I believe creates our inherent need to create representations of these types in order to produce meaning, but there can be no true meaning as meaning is something that floats and assigned meaning to an image or a persons is entirely dependent upon the individual being viewing the image or other person. Visual representation carries both connotative and denotative meanings and meanings or interpretations both on the conscious and subconscious level. But these visual representations, due to their various “meanings”, create cultural constructions of difference, they enforce this idea of “otherness”, (Berger). If we look around us, visuals or media are everywhere we look and we are constantly digesting their meanings and forming our understandings of these visual representations.
When reading Stuart Hall this week and his discussion around visual representations and race, I was reminded of the popular fast food chain, Popeyes, and the visual representations that come from their commercials. If you have not seen these commercials, they often depict a black woman with a southern accent serving as the face of Louisiana home-style, southern cooking. There is much discourse around these commercials and why they are problematic, viewers obtain the impression of the motherly, nurturing, and serving black woman which echoes similarities to what Hall mentions as “the Mammy figure” and also other racial stereotyping that revolves around Black culture and diet. This is just a current example of how visual representations, in this case a commercial, can serve to enforce stereotypes which “classifies according to a norm and constructs the excluded as the other” (Hall, page 37).
Those who are different from what is perceived as “the ordinary” or most often different from Western Culture or white culture, as exposed to binary forms of representation, which can than be further enforced and fixed through methods such as naturalization which fixes difference, leading to stereotypes that are further enforced through visual representations of such stereotypes of the “other”. Our understanding of what is real, or what we view as “truth” is molded and informed by representations of such stereotypes that are influenced by Derrida’s binaries. We can only understand those around us in relation to ourselves and we are informed by what we are perceived as the truth. I believe this can be best understood in Foucault’s Power/Knowledge argument: “a discourse produces, through different practices of representation, a form of radicalized knowledge of the other deeply implicated in the operations of power”. Most often this power stems from structures with roots in colonialism. This knowledge then informs visual representations of said knowledge to further secure notions of difference or otherness.
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