The coded iconic message (this signs each comprising signifier and signified)
Non-coded iconic message (the literal visual message)
I will use the Aptamil advert above to deconstruct the meaning according to Barthes’ analytical system.
The literal visual message shows, on the left side, a woman and child paddling on a beach, holding hands. On the right side packs of Aptamil and texts are shown.
The coded iconic messages consist:
Woman and child holding hands
The protection of the adult (mother?) afforded to the child
The flat distant horizon
Looking to the future, the mother guiding the child
The calm, milky colour of the sea and sky
With the mother’s guidance, life’s journey ahead need not be troublesome
Colours of clothing
Colours of the clothes are the same as the Aptamil packaging – linking the product to the people
Honeycomb structure surrounding the scientific terms
The reassurance of the scientific basis of the product
The size of the Aptamil packs relative to the people
Emphasising their importance but also associating it with growth
The advert also contains some text, which Barthes suggests can provide anchorage, it guides the perception and understanding of the advert.
In this case “Inspired by 40 years of breast milk research” offers reassurance that the company has been doing this work for a long time, that it is dependable. Note that it mentions breast milk research whereas the product is a substitute for breast milk.
The honeycomb cells mentioning “DHA, IRON and GOS/FOS” emphasise the scientific basis for the product (echoing the 40 year of research). Williamson (1978 p111) suggests Science “acquires some of the connotative qualities of what it replaces, while seeking to define by contrast precisely that which it replaces: ‘The Natural’”. I would suggest that many readers would not know what DHA or GOS/FOS stand for or what they do. The purpose of it is to reassure that Science is ‘replacing the natural’.
“Our most advance formula yet” reinforces the scientific basis of the product and how ‘modern’ it is.
“Their future starts today” guides the viewer through the whole message of the advert – this product is needed for the safe and secure development of your child.
The final line of text refers to an IMPORTANT NOTICE that ‘breast feeding is best’. However the placing and size of the font used indicates that this message is of lesser importance than anything else in the advert and suggests, therefore, that it is of little consequence.
Berry, N.J. (2010) ‘Got milk? : the influence of toddler formula advertising on attitudes and beliefs about infant feeding’ At:
Deborah Bright’s esssay was an interesting read, despite having been written over 30 years ago, there are many points still valid today.Her essay looks at cultural meanings in landscape photography.
Bright believes that, irrespective of aesthetic value, “every representation of a landscape is also a record of human values and actions imposed on the land over time” (Bright 1985). She also considers that landscape photographers have played a large part in constructing the way in which landscape images are perceived generally, and what is expected of them. In her essay she calls for a fresh look at the cultural meanings within landscape images and suggests three questions that could be asked to determine the ideologies behind the images:
– In whose interests were the images conceived
– Why we continue to make and consume them
– Why landscape is still seen through a masculine eye
Outlining how the current view of landscape images has developed she believes that the cowboy movie has “succeeded as no other form in masculinising the western landscape”. She continues to describe how the dominant landscape aesthetic developed from the ‘straight photography’ of Paul Strand and Alfred Stieglitz.
She considers that curators of galleries and exhibitions have determined the current aesthetic by their choices and publications. She describes how John Szarkowski produced a catalogue of images called American Landscapes. Of the 40 photographers represented, only two were women, Laura Gilpin and Dorothea Lange.
She goes on to compare the masculine and feminine views of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant. John Pfahl’s Power Places (John Pfahl – Power Places [s.d.]) contains an image of the Three Mile Island plant https://johnpfahl.com/pages/powerplaceseast/01threemileisland.html. The image is portrayed in such a way that it is not immediately obvious to the viewer that the building is indeed a nuclear plant. The image almost glamourises the building, it seems to be in the style one would normally associate with the Taj Mahal. Very much in the tradition of Carleton Watkins, which Snyder describes as “visual harmony between the land and the new tokens of progress symbolised by the industrialisation of the land itself” (Mitchell 2002 p 187).
Bright contrasts this approach with that of Lisa Lewenz who produced a calendar of a series of views of the same plant, but placing it within its social context. https://oregondigital.org/catalog/oregondigital:df70bt88v shows the same building photographed by Pfahl but which gives a much stronger emphasis on the effect the building has locally. Again one has to look closely to see just what the building is, but taking the photograph from inside a domestic dwelling and framing the plant within a window adds a new dimension to the interpretation of the scene. The viewer is now confronted with the effect the building has on the local landscape rather than interpreting it as a beautiful landscape in it own right.
Bright herself then falls victim to gender stereotyping in her comment “Most ‘landscapes’ used by women – the home, beauty salon, shopping mall etc.”. Perhaps this is an indication of how this issue has changed over the years, today many people would take exception to that list as the sort of ‘landscapes used by women’ – no mention of workplace for example, just the connotation that women would mainly frequent ‘the home, beauty salon, shopping mall’.
This aside, Bright does then make some strong comments on the under representation of women landscape photographers in contemporary literature and at exhibitions.
Bright concludes with the comment that “Landscape imagery has almost always been used to argue for the timeless virtues of a nature that transcends history – which is to say, collective social action”.
She believes that landscape images with a purely aesthetic approach should not be the dominant genre and that landscape photographers should use it to “question the assumptions about nature and culture it has traditionally served”. So whereas the famous ‘Marlboro Man’ advertising images portray a very masculine view of the landscape, one that is aesthetically pleasing but which “symbolizes a natural, clean world that is not polluted by marginalizing white middle-class ideas of modern society with women’s rights, racial equality, etc.” (A Marlboro Man Story 2014)
Many things have changed since Bright first wrote the essay – most notably the law on advertising tobacco. But I suspect not much has changed in what are the major points of Bright’s essay in terms of the curation and selection of exhibitions. Otherwise The Guerrilla Girls would probably not have seen the need to produce this 2016 poster
I grew up in a small town in the East Midlands close to the countryside and as a child I used to cycle around the local area. So far as I can remember, all the images of the countryside at that time were of country cottages and views of the countryside. These images were widespread in papers and magazines, on tins of biscuits and boxes of chocolates. I was keen on photography at the time and these stereotypical images heavily influenced my views on landscape and what constituted a good image.
Later in life I spent some years working in remoter areas of Indonesia. Living conditions for the local population were harsh with no running water or sanitation yet most of my photographs from the time are of striking landscapes or spectacular sunsets. Most of them were very ‘touristy’ views; I guess that this is understandable in that the photos were taken as momentos of my time there and to show to others ‘what it was like’.
I think that this has resulted in my having (until starting this course) a quite entrenched traditional view of what constitutes a good landscape image. Reading of Fay Godwin’s work, which addressed barriers to access in the countryside, showing the barbed wire around Stonehenge – at that time I would probably have tried to take a photo which didn’t show the barbed wire but simply concentrated on Stonehenge itself, concentrating on what I thought it should look like rather than the reality of the restricted access.
Finally my later subscriptions to photography magazines will also have had an influence on my views of landscape. Reading Photography Monthly and Practical Photography led me to think that the lessons in those journals on ‘take better landscape photos’ were the route to success.
Taylor describes how images of the landscape were used to rally support for the war effort, of portraying a country ‘worth fighting for’. The underlying message was quite subtle “Landscape was a route to levels of emotion which were acceptably patriotic without being too nationalistic”. The images reinforced the historical point that the country had not been conquered for a thousand years. Patriotic propaganda portrayed the beauty of the countryside and idyllic villages and contrasted this to the nightmare of Nazi Germany as “an industrial society run amok”.
The article describes how the countryside changed as a result of the war (road signs obliterated, military buildings and manoeuvres, restricted access) and that the landscape images were used to recall the pastoral beauty.
Interestingly the Article then describes how, when the war began, picture editors started to turn down traditional landscape pictures, preferring those which showed the countryside supporting the war effort, for example by showing evacuee children in a rural setting. This also helped to promote the view that the countryside belonged to all the people.
Articles from Picture Post contrast the ‘British way of life – a shepherd with his flock in a village High Street’ with the ‘German way of life – street filled with marching soldiers’.
Finally Taylor describes how “The cliffs at Dover came to stand for a complete ring of natural bulwarks. Moreover, the white cliffs remained unsullied”. The cliffs came to represent “the absolute and inviolate boundary of the country”.
I found it interesting to read just how views of the landscape had been used as propaganda during the war and the way in which the age old stereotypes of countryside and village life were used to demonstrate something worth fighting for”.
I wondered if such images would be used in similar circumstances today, or was it just a product of its time. It is, of course, difficult to give a definitive answer to that question, but as shown by the Daily Mail poster of 2002 the image does still have a very strong resonance for a section of society. My own feeling is that the make up of the country’s population has changed significantly since the war and I am not so sure that traditional images would have the same effect. It is also worth remembering that how information is disseminated now has changed hugely, Picture Post has been replaced by Facebook. Nevertheless single images can have a powerful impact, but at the moment I suspect that several images might be required to appeal to different sections of the population.
I emailed my tutor along with Assignment 3 setting out the following topic for my critical review
For the Critical Review in Assignment 4 I would like to look at the use of multiple images/photomontage in landscape photography. Perhaps I could look at the topic in general but then take a detailed look at two ore three individual images taken from different times, eg Carolling by Henry Peach Robinson and The Street by Romare Bearden. If space permitted I could widen it to how multiple images are currently used, eg Flooded Grave by Jeff Wall. Perhaps you could let me have your views on this type of approach.
He replied that this would be appropriate for Assignment 4.
I received my tutor’s comments on my work for Part 3, which contained a number of positive comments as well as areas that I need to improve.
In the exercises he was complementary about the Ophelia image; but in general terms, and particularly the ‘Brush Factory’ work, he thought that I needed to develop new technical skills in post-production. I fully agree with his comment and I have begun to rework the brush factory project to improve the final images and give the people a more ‘ghost-like’ appearance as suggested.
On Assignment 3 he outlined several issues that he would have liked me to explore more fully in the development of the project. He also though that there was, perhaps, an over-reliance on outside sources for images. Overall he thought that the assignment ‘ran out of steam’, perhaps having been restricted by the methodology. I can see all the points that he is making – I do not think that I need to start again, but I will re-work the later images and change their methodology before submitting for assessment.
On the positive side he liked the ‘exploratory approach’ to developing my ideas and said I should continue to investigate this in future work.
He thought that my choice of subject for Assignment 4 was appropriate – but that I need to be more analytical in my assessment of images, not just descriptive.
In the first three images I wanted to look at how the town of Wymondham was changing and to show before and after images of new housing estates at the edge of the town. I did not have any ‘before’ pictures but wondered if Google Streetview was up to date or if it would still show how things used to be. Having studied, in the previous module, how artists had used Streetview I wanted to try using it to produce some of the images. I found that it had been updated very recently where all the new developments were taking place, but I also found a number of glitches in the system which allowed me to create the before and after images. I originally planned to use the ‘before’ images from Streetview and then take my own ‘after’photographs. However, discovering that I could obtain both before and after photos from Streetview at the same time, I decided that it would be more relevant to use all the images from Google. In this way it does query the ‘truth’ of what Google is showing us. I left the Google location and capture details on the photos to show when and where they had been taken.
01 Albini Way: I found that while all the images for the road were of the new development and taken in 2016, there was a single point where the image had not been updated and it showed the scene captured in 2009.
02 Norwich Road: In this instance I found that the Streetview images from the Norwich Road side of the site had been taken in 2016, but when viewed from the opposite side of the site the images dated from 2012 and showed what it was like before work started.
03 London Road: When looking at the Streetview images of London Road they again date from 2016 and show a completed development, but if you look from the side road, just as it joins London Road, this dates from 2009 and shows how it used to be.
For the images depicting ‘where everyday life takes place’ and how appearance changes, I researched early photos from archives (one rich source was postcards on Ebay). In an exercise on this part of the course I had experimented with with inserting characters from old settings into modern day images. In his feedback my tutor was taken by the idea, but thought the characters looked a bit like ‘cardboard cutouts’ and felt they could be more ghostlike. I wanted to try again with this approach and improve my technique. I researched three photographs of locations showing people from the early part of the 2oth century and added the people to a contemporary setting to show how the sites were and are places where ‘everyday life takes place’.
04 Beckets Chapel: I took an old black and white photo of two people standing outside one of the oldest buildings in Wymondham and added them to a photograph I took of the site today
05 Abbey Wall: Compared with the earlier photo we can see the influence of the motor car – parking, yellow lines and speed humps.
06 Damgate Street: Life on the streets was different in the earlier photo with people standing in the street and no parked cars. The pub is no more, but the building looks just the same as a family home.
What strikes me about these last three photos is how little the structure of these town centre streets has changed and I think that this is something that helps to build a sense of place.
For my last three images I chose to look at three iconic settings that really do determine the town as a place. I chose what are probably recognised as the three best known sites in Wymondham. For each setting I based my location on an old print or painting of the scene.
07 The Green Dragon: a medieval public house dating back to the fourteenth century. I based the photo on an image that I found dating from the 1906 publication “The Old Inns of England” (Harper 2013).
08 The Market Cross: The Market Cross is a well known local landmark, according to Wymondham Town Council it was built in 1617-18 (to replace an earlier cross from the middle ages which was destroyed by fire in 1615) and cost £25-7-0d. My photo uses , as its source, an oil painting by Henry Ninham dating from 1865. Ninham was one of the lesser known artists of the Norwich school, best known for his etchings. The imposing setting in the town centre and being so easily recognisable as such an old building, the cross has become a symbol of the town – being used as a logo for the town council and on the town signs, as well as a Bowls Club and the local Vet!
09 Wymondham Abbey: Probably the town’s most famous landmark the abbey was founded in 1107. My source for the contemporary photograph was an engraving by Thomas Lound dating from 1847. Lound was a later member of the Norwich School of Artists and interestingly a keen photographer (and according to the website Early Norfolk Photographs showed 5 of his photographs at an exhibition of 1856 – “two of Ely Cathedral, two of Bromholm(e) Priory and one of the Fish Market, Norwich”)
The abbey has also become an iconic building, its twin towers forming the logo of the local high school.
This is a major photography exhibition at The Barbican presenting the work of 20 different photographers from the 1950’s to the present day. The Barbican website describes the exhibition as following “the lives of individuals and communities operating on the fringes of society from America to India, Chile to Nigeria. The exhibition reflects a more diverse, complex view of the world, as captured and recorded by photographers”.
The exhibition is split into twenty separate areas each devoted to a single photographer and their particular subject. It certainly begins with a punch, as Waywell (2018) writes “Any photography show that kicks off with a room of Diane Arbus followed by one of Bruce Davidson means business and you’d better believe that things don’t get much easier after that”. What they have in common is that all the photographers deal with people who, for many different reasons, are marginalised, are on the fringes of society. Colli (2018) describes the exhibition “Focusing on issues of gender, sexuality, race and violence; Another Kind of Life is a starkly honest and brutal portrayal of what is like to live at the outskirts of what is deemed acceptable in society”.
What is fascinating about the exhibition is how involved the photographers have become in the lives of their subjects Luke (2018) writes “As significant as the artists’ subject matter is their position as a photographer: the camera isn’t some detached, objective eye; it’s held by a person, engaging with other people, with varying degrees of intimacy”. You feel very close to the people in the photographs as you make your way through the exhibition, each is an individual with a story to tell rather than just a subject in front of a lens.
I was very interested to discover what first instigated the idea for the exhibition. The British Journal of Photography and the BBC website both published interviews with the curator (Alona Pardo). It seems as though the exhibition can, in some ways, be seen following on from the work of Diane Arbus, Zhang (2018) writes “It is through an extensive study into her oeuvre, considering its criticism but also looking further to her legacy and the impact of her vision on the discourse of today, that the curator was inspired to pursue these questions in the work of other documentary photographers”.
The aim of the exhibition is best summarised in a quote by Pardo in conversation with Macdonald (2018) ““These are the forgotten and the marginalised – those that we wish not to see – and the photos are very much about giving them representation – they’ve shed all kinds of judgement, there isn’t judgement, there is just a desire to reflect accurately and as authentically as possible the daily grind that some communities have to go through.”
Another Kind of Life. At: https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2018/event/another-kind-of-life-photography-on-the-margins (Accessed on 29 March 2018)
Colli, E. (2018) Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins Exhibition Review – The Barbican. At: https://www.thestrandmagazine.com/single-post/2018/03/04/Another-Kind-of-Life-Photography-on-the-Margins-Exhibition-Review—The-Barbican (Accessed on 29 March 2018)
Macdonald, F. (2018) Culture – Another kind of life: Fascinating photos of outsiders. At: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180316-another-kind-of-life-fascinating-photos-of-outsiders (Accessed on 29 March 2018)
Waywell, C. (2018) Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins review. At: https://www.timeout.com/london/art/another-kind-of-life-photography-on-the-margins-review (Accessed on 29 March 2018)
According to the Tate website All Too Human celebrates the painters in Britain who strove to represent human figures, their relationships and surroundings in the most intimate of ways. I was interested in seeing the whole exhibition as it contains work by a number of great artists, but I specifically wanted to look closely at some of the landscape paintings.
In one of the first rooms I saw David Bomberg’s Toledo from the Alcazar, I was intrigued by the composition of the painting. Obviously the painter was viewing the scene from a high vantage point, but my attention was drawn straight away to the strong diagonals in the image. Most notably the line running from lower left to upper right, below which is the town and above which is the countryside beyond. There is also a path running almost in parallel above this line which emphasises it. The roofs and the streets of the town provide further strong diagonals, as does the way Bomberg has painted the countryside just beyond the town. The overall effect giving a strong dynamism to the painting, when you view it you can almost feel the movement in the town.
This use of diagonals was something that I noticed about other landscape paintings in the exhibition. In another room were paintings by Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossof in fact that room had the title The Cityscape of London.
I was intrigued by Kossof’s Christ Church, Spitalfields, Morning, in particular the way in which he had twisted perspective and painted the scene with the building slanting away from the viewer. In the same room Auerbach’s Chimney in Mornington Crescent – Winter Morning had equally strong diagonals and playing with perspective. The guide booklet issued with the exhibition ticket states “Both Auerbach and Kossoff display great sensitivity to the conditions of light, convey the dynamism of city life and reflect the mood of a specific moment”. It also states that “they went on to develop highly distinctive approaches, representative of different ways of looking and engaging with reality”. This is perhaps something that I could work on in my own practice and try to develop a more personal approach.
Tate (n.d.) All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life – Exhibition at Tate Britain. At: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/all-too-human (Accessed on 27 March 2018)
For the first three images I wanted to look at how the town of Wymondham was changing and to show before and after images of new housing estates at the edge of the town. I did not have any ‘before’ pictures but wondered if Google Streetview was up to date or if it would still show how things used to be. Having studied, in the previous module, how artists had used Streetview I wanted to try using it to produce some of the images. I found that it had been updated very recently where all the new developments were taking place, but I also found a number of glitches in the system which allowed me to create the before and after images. I originally planned to use the ‘before’ images from Streetview and then take my own ‘after’photographs. However, discovering that I could obtain both before and after photos from Streetview at the same time, I decided that it would be more relevant to use all the images from Google. In this way it does query the ‘truth’ of what Google is showing us. I left the Google location and capture details on the photos to show when and where they had been taken. In all cases the satellite view on Google earth was up to date and I used this as the central image to set the location with the before and after images on either side.
01 Albini Way
I found that while all the images for the road were of the new development and taken in 2016, there was a single point where the image had not been updated and it showed the scene captured in 2009.
02 Norwich Road
In this instance I found that the Streetview images from the Norwich Road side of the site had been taken in 2016, but when viewed from the opposite side of the site the images dated from 2012 and showed what it was like before work started.
03 London Road
When looking at the Streetview images of London Road they again date from 2016 and show a completed development, but if you look from the side road, just as it joins London Road, this dates from 2009 and shows how it used to be.
For the next three images I wanted to look at how some things had changed over time but how it may appear that little has changed. I found a website George Plunkett’s Photographs of old Norwich which had a number of photographs taken from 1931 onwards including a number taken in Wymondham. I also discovered a number of photos and postcards advertised on Ebay. Having looked at ‘appropriation’ in the previous module it was something I thought I could try in order to produce these images. Again I kept the Google Earth satellite view as a central image to fix the location but also as a symbol of the contemporary nature of the final image.
04 Bridewell Street
The first image just goes back 20 years to 1997 and shows that little has changed over that time. The next two images go back a bit further and start to show some changes.
05 Church Street
Compared with the earlier photo we can see the influence of the motor car – parking, yellow lines and speed humps.
06 Damgate Street
Life on the streets was different in the earlier photo with the chair outside the door and people standing in the street, that wouldn’t be done today! The pub is no more, but the building looks just the same as a family home.
What strikes me about these last three photos is how little the structure of these town centre streets has changed and I think that this is something that helps to build a sense of place.
For my last three images I chose to look at three iconic buildings that really do determine the town as a place. For these images I wanted to give a sense of really going back in time to before the age of mass photography. Although photography had been invented by the time of the images I have used, I chose to use a drawing, an oil painting and an engraving to add a sense of ‘long ago’ to the first image, a sense of timelessness.
07 The Green Dragon
The Green Dragon is a medieval public house dating back to the fourteenth century.
However it would seem that pubs may not have been popular topics for local painters. The earliest image that I could find dated from the 1906 publication “The Old Inns of England” (Harper 2013).
08 The Market Cross
The Market Cross is a well known local landmark, according to Wymondham Town Council it was built in 1617-18 (to replace an earlier cross from the middle ages which was destroyed by fire in 1615) and cost £25-7-0d. The oil painting on the left is by Henry Ninham and dates from 1865. Ninham was one of the lesser known artists of the Norwich school, best known for his etchings.
The imposing setting in the town centre and being so easily recognisable as such an old building, the cross has become a symbol of the town – being used as a logo for the town council and on the town signs, as well as a Bowls Club and the local Vet!
I particularly like the satellite image for this group, as well as showing the location , the shadow of the Market Cross is immediately recognisable .
Even older than the cross –
09 Wymondham Abbey
Probably the town’s most famous landmark the abbey was founded in 1107. The engraving on the left is by Thomas Lound dates from 1847. Lound was a later member of the Norwich School of Artists and interestingly a keen photographer (and according to the website Early Norfolk Photographs showed 5 of his photographs at an exhibition of 1856 – “two of Ely Cathedral, two of Bromholm(e) Priory and one of the Fish Market, Norwich”).
The abbey has also become an iconic building, its twin towers forming the logo of the local high school.
Images not used
In addition to these images there were a number that I tried out but dismissed in favour of the ones above.
Instead of using the photo of Church Street, I thought of using one of Market Street:
However I decided to use the Church Street image as 1) the original was a better street scene whereas the Market Street view was mainly just of a shop and 2) the Market Street image seemed a bit unbalanced with only a small first photo on the left compared to the other two, This could have been addressed by cropping, but I still didn’t feel that it gave a ‘balanced ‘ feel.
I tried a couple of alternative views of Damgate Street, changing both the original photo on the left and my contemporary version on the right. Again, for the left image I thought the older photograph worked better and that the landscape, as opposed to portrait, orientation for my contemporary photo worked best.
For the Green Dragon and the Market Cross I tried an old photo on the left, but wanted an ‘older’ feel to the original images so decided to replace them with a drawing and an oil painting respectively.
Also for the cross I tried to photograph it from different angles, before deciding that the viewing angle (and lighting) were best in the final version I used.
For the abbey, wanting to preserve the ‘older’ feel of the left hand image I decided against a photo from 1954
and instead choose from several etchings, the oldest dating from 1738
and the next from 1818
But I decided that the viewpoint and tone of the engraving I finally chose was the one best complemented by my contemporary photo.
Early Norfolk Photographs. At: http://www.earlynorfolkphotographs.co.uk/Photographers/Thomas%20Lound/Thomas_Lound_photographer.html (Accessed on 22 March 2018)
Harper, C.G. (2013) THE OLD INNS OF OLD ENGLAND. At: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/43865/43865-h/43865-h.htm (Accessed on 19 March 2018)