237.130_A2_Wk8_ Task #1_Tool Kit_7/May/2016.

Planning and Preparation

  • Useful learning about the different styles of essay writing in the first week,  I wanted to move to more of a planning style to have my essay planned before starting.
  • How to unpack the question and reword it to understand it better.
  • That mindmaps are good to have a better understanding of the topic and sort my ideas to separate catorgories.

Writing Skills

  • How to edit essays to keep the word limit down and every sentence necessary.
  • How to structure essays for this style of question.
  • How to structure a good thesis question and the importance of having a solid intro.

Content and Visual Text Analysis Tools

  • The ‘myth of photographic truth’ to unpack photographs.
  • Understanding perspective in photography  (Sturken and Cartwright)
  • From the lectures understanding the way ideologies are present in our lives and how it is relevant to how people interpret visual texts.

Research and Information Gathering Tools and Protocols

  • These essay questions are quite complicated and there are many ways to interpret and unpack them and planning and preparation of the blog tasks allowed me to have a greater understanding of the question before starting the essay.
  • How to use the Massey library was extremely useful in gathering info and researching
  • How to gather visual texts and reference from the original source correctly.

237.130_A2_Wk7_ Task #2_Seeing the World, World Views_30/April/2016.

Discuss how a visual text can be constructed and read differently considering ‘world view’, ‘ideology’, and ‘the myth of photographic truth’.

Interpretation of a visual text is not static and is different for different people, the main aspect that shapes a person’s interpretation of a visual text is their set of ideologies. Ideologies are a set of beliefs and ideals that a person associates, for example, in the West we have a very individualistic dominant world view, where we view ourselves as a individual, competing against the wider community for success (The Indigenous World View vs. Western World View).

The image below by Burtynsky in his series ‘Water’ has the intention as Burtynsky puts it, “I wanted to find ways to make compelling photographs about the human systems employed on redirect and control water.” Burtynsky is an artist who grew up in Canada where water is being altered by the Western nation, he is critiquing this dominant world view rather than mirroring it in his own work.

This visual text can connote different ideas depending on the viewers’ world view. For example I interpret this image as showing the size and power of the dam contrasting with the small pool of water at the  bottom to show the disgusting domination of nature. While with a different world view it could be viewed as the admiration of humans power over the world as the photographer looks up at the might of the dam.”Connotative meanings are informed by the cultural and historical contexts of the image and its viewers” (Sturken and Cartwright 20)

Burtnysky, Edward.Xiluodu Dam #1. 2012. Photograph. Contemporary Arts Center. Burtynsky Water. New Orleans. NOMA, 2012. 79. Print.



Understanding the producer of a visual text is crucial to understanding the visual text, as reality is shaped through their ideologies to create the visual text.

Visual texts often reaffirm the dominant ideologies of the world as more often that not the producer of the visual text usually hold the dominant ideology at the time, the ideologies present in visual texts are usually the dominant ideologies at the time and are shared by the audience (Schlichtmann 2.) As reality passes through their eyes and world view, they create a visual text based on these world views, most commonly the dominant world view.

In my own visual texts I need to consider not just how I interpret the subject/visual text but how others with different world views many view it differently.

Works Cited:

“Edward Burtynsky – Biography.” Edward Burtynsky – Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.

Burtynsky, Edward, Wade Davis, Russell Lord, and Marcus Schubert. Burtynsky: Water. New Orleans: NOMA, 2013. Print.

Schlichtmann, Hansgeorg. “Peripheral Meaning in Maps: The Example of Ideology.” Journal for Theoretical Cartography Vol 1 (2008): 1-2. Web. 8 May 2016.

Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. “Images, Power and Politics” Practices of     Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. New York, Oxford University Press,  2009. 16-20. Print.

TheSpamflagger. “The Indigenous World View vs. Western World View.” YouTube. YouTube, 07 May 2014. Web. 01 May 2016.



Wk 6 Reflection on Learning

The most interesting part of the last few weeks of research has been researching deeper into visual texts such as such as La Gare Saint-Lazare and the NASA space photographs of the Aral Sea. They are both very different visual texts and analyzing them for how they are depict the changing environmental world has been very revealing and rewarding.

I am a little concerned that these two visual texts most likely wont work together in an essay, unless I do a really broad essay so ill likely have to pick one direct or the other to go with.

What hasn’t worked as well is reading some of the course readings that don’t completely apply to my question or the NASA pics of the Aral Sea. Most of the questions from Rose, Gillian, Visual Methodologies only apply to more conceptual artworks.

The main aspect of this paper that I can carry into my own work and my other courses is the picking apart of the visual texts, such as the dissection of Weegee’s photography and the how perspective from where photo was taken can completely alter the composition and meaning.

My preconceived notions of visual texts has defiantly been challenged with this paper, especially in regards of how they shape our ideologies and how those ideologies are present in our everyday life.

237.130_A2_Wk5_ Task #4_Knowledge in a Paragraph _20/April/2016.

NASA. Aral Sea 1989_2014. 30 September 2014. Photograph. NASA. Earth Observatory NASA. Web. 05 April 2016

What is the purpose of these visual texts?

This visual text is a set of two photographs that are suppose to document the disappearance of the Aral Sea over the last 25 years.

These photographs are presumably purely scientific as they are taken and published by NASA, however it is notable how the Aral Sea is in Russia, of whom the U.S have had tense relations with historically. This does not change the fact that these  are satellite photos and therefore have minimal bias to them however, “We construct the meaning of things through the process of representing them…. representations are mere copies of things as they are or as the person who created them believes things to be” (Sturken and Cartwight 13.) So it is still important to view these images with a critical eye and understand that viewed from different perspectives this image may have different connotations.

Added 10/05/16:

For example if one has an ideology of preserving water they may think this image connotes the loss to the environment, as a result of the lake drying up twenty-four endemic fish species became extinct and the surrounding fishing villages that caught up to 44,000 tons of fish a year in the 1950’s are now in a desert leaving thousands displaced. (Burtynsky 22)

However it could be viewed seeing the success of this irrigation attempt, as the lake was perhaps not necessary to the landscape but instead the Soviet irrigation has resulted in the once arid Uzbekistan becoming the second largest cotton exporter in the world, accounting for one third of their export economy (TheAralSeaCrisis).

Back to original 20/o4/16:

There are also other extreme examples of bodies of water drying up recently, including the Colorado River in the US. This links to Mirzoeff’s ideas ideas of distorting and destroying bodies of water for our own gain in relation to the maps of the Mississippi River (Mirzoeff 250)

Works Cited:

Burtynsky, Edward, Wade Davis, Russell Lord, and Marcus Schubert. Burtynsky: Water. New Orleans: NOMA, 2013. Print.

“Dust Storm, Aral Sea : Image of the Day.” EarthObservatoryNasa. N.p., 30 June 2001. Web. 10 May 2016.

Mirzoeff, Nicholas, How to See the World, Pelican Books, 2015, 001, Pages 250

Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. “Images, Power and Politics” Practices of     Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. New York, Oxford University Press,  2009. 13-16. Print.

“The Aral Sea Crisis.” The Aral Sea Crisis. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2016.

237.130_A2_Wk4_ Task #4_ Visual Analysis of selected images 4C_05/April/2016.

Monet, Claude. La Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877, Oil on Canvas. Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Exploring this visual text in relation to the ideas discusses in:

Rose, Gillian. “Visual Methodologies: A Review.” Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. 3rd ed. London: SAGE, 2012. 346-347.Print.

La Gare Saint-Lazare was painting by Claude Monet in a series of around 12 paintings made in the winter of 1877 all depicting the Saint-Lazare train station in France. These paintings painted towards the beginning of the impressionist movement.

Monet is usually thought of as painting highly romanticized landscapes such as his famous waterlilies, this painting on the other hand is highly industrial while still being very painterly and romantic. It is oil on canvass and Monet almost completely removes line from this artwork which creates light and depth in the train station. (KhanAcademy)

The painting is from the point of view of a passer-by at eye level of a normal person, possibly a frequenter of the train station. The focal point is either the smoke from the front right train and the ethereal effect it creates or the train itself, these two objects juxtapose each other and create the beauty in modern life effect that Monet was trying to convey. Monet chooses to focus not on the harsh steel lines in the scaffolds above and the train tracks below but instead the translucent properties of the smoke- romanticizing modern, urban life. By the time Monet finished his series of paintings, Saint-Lazare had 13 million annual users (KhanAcademy). More and more people found themselves living in an urban area and were constantly surrounded by the likes of trains. Monet wanted to show the beauty of everyday things in the industrial age and this series of paintings aimed to do so. Viewed by urbanized people as a new way to see the otherwise potentially drab winter train station and by rural people as a less daunting view of the booming industrial lifestyle.

In 1873 Monet painted a similar painting, Sun Rising depicting the sun rising over a smoggy lake which also explores the romanticism of the industrial use of coal (Mirzoeff 228). Could discuss these two works in combination in my essay as a western perspective during the industrial revolution.


Works Cited:

Khan Academy. Claude Monet Gare St. Lazare, 1877. YouTube, 18 July 2009. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World. London: Pelican, 2015. 213-252, Print.

Rose, Gillian. “Visual Methodologies: A Review.” Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. 3rd ed. London: SAGE, 2012. 346-347.Print.