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    Analysis of different types of images (pictorial, photographic, cinematographic, video graphic, computerized), and of their meanings and functions. Communicational approach to images. Exploration and exercises.



    Key requirements: Interesting. 1400 to 1800 words, double-spaced, 12pt. font.

    Besides a short introduction of the chosen topic, conduct an elaborate and in-depth analysis of every possible angle that you deem relevant to the question. Your final conclusion should be thoroughly (and interestingly!) supported.

    Please note that an A+ paper mark reflects original thought.  An A paper is solidly written and well supported. A ‘B’ paper meets the basic requirements of the assignment (and might be a bit predictable or dull). Give yourself time to develop some interesting insights.

    Your written assignment should comply with the APA format, and at least four credible sources should be used; also, use class lectures and assigned readings. The images you choose to use for this assignment can be taken from the media (newspapers, magazines, etc.), the internet, digital libraries (ARTstor, JSTOR ), library books or journal articles. Make sure to properly cite the source of the image. You are required to include copies of all images discussed in your assignment (black & white photocopies are acceptable).

    Below are some options for your term paper. Choose one.

    1. Analyze either KONY 2012 or THE CORPORATION (½ hr min. segment) through the lens of theories and approaches examined in the course. How do the visual implementation, moving and still images, camera angles, editing, and other visual and cinematographic elements serve the director’s intention to raise awareness OR how does the visual construction and composition of this video serve propaganda/ideological purposes?
    2. Sturken & Cartwright argue that reflexivity has become “a central aspect of postmodern style in popular culture and advertising” (Sturken & Cartwright, p. 264). What do they mean by this? Support your answer by drawing upon 3-5 examples of your choosing.
    3. Choose two or three images, and discuss some of the key questions raised by Sturken and lecture content for each image. For example: What do these images want? What ideologies are present in the images? How are these images used? How is power an element in these images? Are they beautiful or ugly? How have they been re-coded over time? Include the images in the paper.
    4. How are Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” or “The Great Dictator” particularly relevant to today? Use support from the text and/or other sources.
    5. We say that communication always involves ethical decisions. Discuss this in relation to some key images of your choice.
    6. What function do visual artists (or graphic designers) play in our culture today?
    7. Choose a controversial image and discuss it from different perspectives, applying Standpoint Theory, Attribution Theory, and other topics covered in the course such as power, perspective, gaze and symbolism.
    8. How are images used in politics? OR Choose a key political leader and discuss how images of him/her are used by parties of differing political persuasions.
    9. How has the selfie changed the construction of identity in our culture?

      10. We say that communication is always fraught with noise that gets in the way between the sender and the receiver of a given message. Discuss the noise involved in understanding images as a whole, or in one specific image.

      Please feel free to discuss other topics of interest with the professor.


Subject Art and design Pages 7 Style APA


Functions of Visual Artists in Our Culture Today

 Art can be defined as an expression of human imagination which expands, interprets, and engages life through the eye of the artist. Arts, especially visual, ones are used to provide meaningful expression to parts of culture which include religion, relationships, ideologies, ethnic identities as well as patterns of everyday life. Following the above definition, visual artists or graphic designers play an important role in contributing to the development, overall health, and the wellbeing of society. Visual artists, also known as creative thinkers, provide society with joy, inspiration, and interaction and also offer thoughtful critique to the economic, political, and social systems which allows societies and people to make significant steps towards social progress of communities. According to Becker (2014), creative thinking for social change can come from politicians and business leaders just as they can come from journalists, musicians, and visual artists.  From documenting the history and providing pleasure and creative inspiration, visual artists or graphic designers play an important role in the current societies as well as cultures.

One of the most important functions of visual artists or graphic designers is documentation of history. According to the study conducted by Bennett (2016), artists have been very crucial from the beginning of human existence since they have detailed every bit of events which could have not been retrieved.  Adler (2017) argues that from the prehistoric cave paintings to frescos across the globe, the scientific drawings and the avant-garde activities, visual artists have contributed to documentation of useful historic events which are important for enhancing peoples’ knowledge and creating awareness about certain events. In general, art is a significant way of documenting the present events so that the future generation may have greater understanding of their past. Fritz, Tosello and Conkey (2016) state that some of the knowledge people have today about specific events or physical features have been retrieved from documents that were kept by earlier artists. For example, Taiwan started the community construction movement in 1995. The main objective of the project was to invigorate the local communities by instituting about 25 museums which focus on keeping and retaining Taiwan’s indigenous group. Additionally, the cave images of prehistoric paintings offer few glimpses on how early people lived. These images also demonstrate their moral and religious values. Therefore, other than documenting history, visual artists provide simple but detailed ways of accessing and knowing more about cultures that might otherwise be forgotten.

Visual artists, through their works, tell people about the past which can then be used to predict the future. Through their ability to have pictures of the past and keep them for another generation, people can learn the trend of events and even predict how the future may look like. For example, images of the ozone layer in the 19th century are totally different from the current ones. Today, pictures of the ozone layers prove that it is being depleted and it is deteriorating due to the release of pollution containing chemicals such as chlorine and bromine. Such images can then tell the current generation that continuous depletion of the ozone will put the lives of people at risk in future. In this regard, artists do not only want to show people how the physical features or events were, but also create awareness by comparing the past and the current through images which can also be used to predict the future.

Visual artists find creative solution to social issues which assist the communities by informing them how certain activities or events should be done in a manner that does harm members of society. Art has traditionally been seen as a tool for education, protest, and even inciter for social changes. For example, known street artist, Banksy, has unstintingly plastered his images in most world main cities in an effort to create attention to poverty and environmental issues. Particularly, he painted several whimsical images on the Israel’s Western Wall which was intended to provoke a discussion on Palestine and Israel politics. Currently, most artist draw certain images to create awareness on prevention of certain diseases. One of the condition which has attracted the attention of most artist is increasing rate of obesity in developed countries. To respond to obesity issues, visual artists have made certain images which aim to inform people about the danger of taking a lot of junk food which is the first line of obesity prevention. Becker (2014) says “All of these acts can illuminate what lies hidden or repressed in the margins or shadows. New ideas can be brought to life. These ideas can lead to small or large changes in attitudes and even society” (p.101). In this regard, visual artists, through their work, disseminate certain important information which are imperative in creating awareness hence change how people live in the society. Art is, therefore, a fantastic medium which issues light in society and encourages discussion and conversations that aim at solving societal problems.

Visual artists, explore emotions and create a sense of community. Despite its major function, especially in modernist era to inspire social change, art was also shaped to please, entertain, and, of course explore emotions. This is predominantly the case when viewing it towards the Abstract Expressionists. The movement comprised of experimentations of paints, colors and the emotional properties. Notably, all museums across the globe are filled with people who basically want to get entertained by certain works of great visual artists. This in itself provides evidence that other than educative aspects of visual art, they also form important feature of entertainment. On the same note, there are several roles that visual artist fill in society which create a sense of community. According to Fritz, Tosello and Conkey (2016), having local artists in society creates a sense of pride to members of the community. Basically, it provides an example for youths and other young people who may consider art as their main career. In addition, some visual artists support their societies by teaching individuals about art and craft.

Visual artists create across-cultural understanding and enhance community engagement.  Visual art has astonishing power in fostering collaboration between communities with different norms and priorities. For instance, collaboration between visual artists from conflicting communities is important in raising understanding level between different cultures. For instance, well-known Colombian artist, Fernando Botero’s images, depicted abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War, which brought more attention to the quandary of the people from Iraq. In this regard, visual arts are powerful since they can express thoughts across cultures and classes due to lack of dependence on certain language. According to Efland (2017), the fact that visual art conveys information across all culture makes visual artists the most powerful people who can communicate with everyone irrespective of the language and background.  In terms of community engagement, a research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates that grander focus on visual arts establishes social cohesion, improved child welfare, and better civic engagement.  In addition, Bennett (2016) states that working with artists from other parts of the world creates beautiful exchanges of ideas which ultimately results in artistic growth, new understandings, and empathy. Such values can then be passed to the community which then creates an inclusive society where people understand each other. 

Visual artists are society educators. One of the most important function of visual artist, according to Csikszentmihalyi (2014), is to educate the society on certain perspectives which may include culture, politics, and history. According to Fritz, Tosello and Conkey (2016), the fact that art is a source of information which is meant to teach positive things in society is the main reason why certain images or paintings are banned or marked as controversial. Images have been used to educate people about their past, culture, and behaviors. From the pre-historical times, visual arts have been a way of communication which is deeply engraved in human nature. The development of learning is still a challenge, predominantly in the school settings. While direct explanations seem to be the best method to teaching any exact subject on curriculum, it is known that ability to understand amounts of concepts and facts is significantly enhanced by putting them in a wider context of applicability to everyday life.

In conclusion, from documenting the history and providing pleasure and creative inspiration, visual artists or graphic designers play an important role in the current societies. They contribute to the development, overall health, and wellbeing of society. Artists have been very crucial from the beginning of human existence since they have detailed every bit of events which would not have been retrieved. Through their work, they also inform people about their past which can then be used to predict the future. In addition to exploring emotions and creating a sense of community, they establish across-cultural understanding and enhance community engagement. Moreover, visual artist are also society educators through their works who find solution to social issues.


Adler, J. E. (2017). Artists in offices: An ethnography of an academic art scene. Routledge.

Becker, C. (2014). The Subversive Imagination: The Artist, Society and Social Responsiblity. Routledge.

Bennett, D. E. (2016). Understanding the classical music profession: The past, the present and strategies for the future. Routledge.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Society, culture, and person: A systems view of creativity. In The Systems Model of Creativity (pp. 47-61). Springer, Dordrecht.

Efland, A. D. (2017). A history of art education. Teachers College Press.

Fritz, C., Tosello, G., & Conkey, M. W. (2016). Reflections on the identities and roles of the artists in European Paleolithic societies. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 23(4), 1307-1332.

Müller, A. L. (2018). Voices in the city. On the role of arts, artists and urban space for a just city. Cities.


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