::::::::Practices of Looking::::::::

image amplifications

Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, 'Introduction' Practices of Looking: an Introduction to Visual Culture (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2001)



Seeing: a process of observing and recognizing the world around us in a somewhat arbitrary way as we go about our daily lives.


Looking: to actively make meaning of that world with a more involved sense of purpose and direction. Through looking we negotiate social relationships and meanings. Looking is a practice much like speaking, writing or singing. Looking involves learning to interpret and it involves relationships of power.



Their First Murder

by Weegee


born Usher Fellig,

June 12 in Lemberg (also know as Lvov), Austria (now Ukraine).





Mimesis(reflection of reality), Representation, Symbol and Meaning




Still Life with Stoneware Jug, Wine Glass, Herring and Bread

By Pieter Claesz 1642




Defying Representation




The Treachery of Images 1928-29

Rene Magritte


Repurposing images, symbols, the loss of aura of the original




The Myth of Photographic Truth

A photograph is often perceived to be an unmediated copy of the real world….but it is not.



Trolley-New Orleans 1955-56

by Robert Frank


Beyond documenting facts.

Evoking powerful emotions about the momentous changes about to occur in the

American South in relation to segregation legally, politically and socially


Roland Barthes, French theorist: myths - the hidden cultural values and conventions  through which meanings are made to seem universal and given for awhile society, even though in reality they are specific to certain groups. (beauty & thinness)


* Denotative Meaning: Presenting evidence, literal descriptive meaning


* Connotative Meaning: relying on the cultural and historical context of the image and its viewers’ lived, felt knowledge of those circumstances, evoking a magical, mythical quality.


From The Americans, a photographic essay he made while traveling around the USA









Semiotics: the theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication.

We interpret images around us and determine what they signify.





What does this Benetton add mean?


civil war?

Terrorism, eye-catching?

Benetton as company with a sense of social concern for the problems of the world?







Advertisements connoting rugged individualism and life on the American Frontier, when men were “real” men. Embodying a romanticized idea of freedom that stands in contrast to the more confined lives of most workers today…




Marlboro    +   masculinity = Marlboro as masculinity


signifier   +   signified = sign





The Value of Images




Irises, 1889

Vincent Van Gogh

$53.8 million in 1991








Bicycle Wheel, 1913

Marcel Duchamp










Chinese student stopping tanks at Tiananmen Square

Beijing, China 1989


Image icon: worldwide struggles for democracy.

The icon is an image that refers to something outside of its individual components, something that has great symbolic meaning for many people.





Depictions of Motherhood in Western Culture in 16th century Europe




The Small Cowper Madonna, 1505







Virgin & Child, 1525

Joos van Cleve






Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936

Dorothea Lange

(an iconic image of the Great Depression in America)



Farm Security Administration Collection




Image Icons embodying stereotypical ingredients of 20th Century American concepts of feminine beauty and sexuality:





Marilyn, 1962

Andy Warhol

Iconic figure of Marilyn Monroe and

 the role of star as media commodity for mass consumption



Madonna in one of her identities