Science of images in terms

Jesse Shramenko
Professor Goncalves
Imagery and Culture Assignment: Science of Images in terms

Science of Images in terms

Power is used in our book Practices of Looking An Introduction to Visual Culture through a few examples. One is through the use of photography to elevate the influence “of the modern political state” since its invention in the “19th century”. Such is still going on when looking at the promotion of political agendas, thus conveying its relevance in the political world. Below I am depicted telling a woman about the Uhuru Solidarity Movement at Occupy Wall St. in New York City. The photograph promotes political outreach in telling other people about the movement’s aspirations.

Photography in this regard, does not care whose using it to have power in the image and stated goal. When looking at such an example of attempting to gain power in whatever it is, it can be done through an image. It brings retrospect to the saying “a picture says 1000 words.” In rapper, Common’s piece “A Song for Assata” he vividly explains details of the experience felt by Assata Shakur, who was harassed, shot, terrorized, and tortured by New Jersey State Police officers, and mentions her being “free with political asylum in Cuba.” Images of her while his song is playing can be found here: some of the same images found in this video are used to display her in “WANTED” ads on New Jersey state-billboards, by the F.B.I. for people to know how she looks like, and in other depicted photographs which can be found here: .

The index of the same book documents power being talked about in relation to psychoanalysis, cigarettes, for example, were related to penises, in the film we watched “the century of the self” and a woman feeling like she had one if she were to smoke, thus asserting some type of freedom. An interesting thing to note is that such a power can go both ways in the field of psychoanalysis. That is, promoting, and dismissing the idea of smoking cigarettes as a thing to do. In a commercial played on the television network “Telemundo” a vivid ad against smoking is shown through someone getting an operation, with their insides shown. The pace is rather fast and eventually a black background is shown with all-caps and white letters, the word, “CIGARILLO.” Surprisingly, I was not able to find an image of it however it was a very vivid commercial portraying such an example. Other anti-smoking commercials associate cigarettes with bullies, and went far enough to equate a cigarette to a tiny, strong, man bossing smokers around, taking up their time and the money they use.

A video of the commercial equating cigarettes to bullies can be found here:

As it can be seen, through photography, and even videos, power of influence is wielded.
Psychoanalysis can also draw on prejudices, power being used to manipulate stereotypical outlook. The same company made a commercial that was racist, in my opinion. A light-skinned woman is depicted at a mini-mart buying cigarettes from a dark-skinned woman who looks rather aged in facial structure. Knowing that cigarettes do that, (make you look aged) it seems to play upon prejudices, where the racism shows itself at a peak is when the light-skinned woman is told she has not paid enough money and rips off a piece of her skin as a result, leaving the area of skin she ripped off, looking darker. In this case, the power to get someone off of cigarettes is being used with racial conveyance, leaving the causation of that commercial questionable, that commercial was also one I couldn’t find.

The book breaks down hegemony into reading in three ways, taken out of the “essay titled ‘Encoding, Decoding’” defining the ways as:
“1. Dominant-hegemonic reading. They can identify with the hegemonic position and receive the dominant message of an image or text (such as a television show) in an unquestioning manner.
2. Negotiated reading. They can negotiate an interpretation from the image and its dominant meanings.
3. Oppositional reading. Finally, they can take an oppositional position, either by completely disagreeing with the ideological position embodied in an image or rejecting it altogether (for example, by ignoring it).”

I feel things aren’t broken down that simply. There are many street murals that folks agree with and disagree with and don’t feel the same way about each one at the same time. A good example would be the murals of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Frank Rizzo. Abu-Jamal’s mural can be found here: and Rizzo’s can be here: there are folks who like either one mural the other, or both. From my experience in working with movements to free Abu-Jamal, there are different perspectives, one that Frank Rizzo was a brutal cop, who people in that ward were said to have “hated” and “feared.” Such was before Rizzo was mayor, as mayor, Rizzo exercised the authority to allow cops to seriously brutalize people, and was low enough to allow it to happen to a mentally retarded man, causing his death. My father recalls a time seeing a woman raped by men in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia during that time period, calling the cops, and then hearing them laugh at him and hang up after he gave them the address.

Others view him as someone as someone who brought “law and order” to the city. People view him [Rizzo] one of such ways while viewing Abu-Jamal as innocent of the crime he was accused of, or as guilty. People either like one mural or the other, or both. To make a long story short, people either view Rizzo as a dictator or a hero, and people either view Abu-Jamal as an innocent man who stood up for people facing hard times, or as a cold-blooded killer who makes racist articles. In regards to both folks, it really is not one or the other in regards to which one is liked; there are many mixed feelings on both individuals from people.

Certainly people who view images are found to have those interpretations, but not all the time is it that interpretation. On page 73 such is touched upon, regarding Dominant-hegemonic reading documenting that “it can be argued that few viewers actually consume images in this manner, because there is no mass culture that can satisfy all viewers’ culturally specific experiences, memories, and desires.” The same can be said for religion. The Holy Bible tells the youth very specifically to “stay away from idols.” Some view idols as candles that have images associated with religious figures for people to light in their own home, which is found in the Catholic religion; others view it as paying respect to religious figures and providing blessings and good energy in their home/house. Images of what I’m talking about are found here: other examples are conveyed in statues of Buddha that people bow down to in the Buddhist religion, that is also viewed as idolatry, while others believe it to be meditation on the actual individual, Gautam Buddha, in hopes of attaining spiritual benefits, like the Catholic-saint candles. Images of such can be found here: while such is more of a one or the other type of thing, if one is to call them-self a Catholic and/or a Christian, in that religion the Bible/most of the Torah are the main books, which both speak against idolatry, it is written.

I did not find “sexism” in the book’s index, however I did find feminist art being talked about, used to combat sexism. defines sexism in two ways, one as “attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual role.” Sexism is also defined on the same website as “discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women.” I personally feel that sexism is discrimination based on gender. A picture shown has a naked woman with a gorilla’s head asking “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”

Such also touches on the point I was making on hegemony, and that the book was making on Dominant-hegemonic reading. Not everyone, let alone every female, views a picture of a naked woman as sexist. At the Afrikan Poetry Theatre in Jamaica Queens, New York City, New York, there is a picture of an at least half naked African woman with her child, which is well-regarded, visible, and taken care of. I could not find the image of that specific painting, but a similar one can be found here: .

On the other side of things, regarding paintings of women, there is an image by artist “Shirin Neshat” that came out of her fascination with women during the Iranian Revolution throughout 1978-1979; that image can be found here:;_ylt=AwrB8p0yVQJTziwALeeJzbkF;|+Flickr+-+Photo+Sharing!&p=Shirin+Neshat+Rebellious+Silence&oid=95b4fb0e2164c45e3dfd47a91c1bb765&fr2=&fr=&tt=%3Cb%3EShirin+Neshat+%3C%2Fb%3E-+%3Cb%3ERebellious+Silence+%3C%2Fb%3E|+Flickr+-+Photo+Sharing!&b=0&ni=21&no=1&ts=&tab=organic&sigr=11lct77a4&sigb=130ggtngv&sigi=11nn98ohk&.crumb=97dqJ4ZU74H&

The image is called “Rebellious Silence” which also celebrating practices in the Islamic religion. She is holding a rifle to promote self-determination, and wearing a chador to signify such as well, and to constitute privacy, protection, and empowerment. As a female it symbolizes modest dressing and for men other than her husband to not think about it regarding their lusts through how she’s dressed. It reaffirms that she belongs to her husband and no one else, regarding spousal relations.

She also has a poem written on her face called “allegiance with wakefulness” by an author in Iran symbolizing her awareness of what was happening in Iran during the revolution and the role that women played. All of such, among her fascination with women during the revolution, was meant to show her solidarity with it. Uplifting women was a key reason, and one of the exact reasons for her making that photo-painting. Not every feminist associates religion, wearing religious clothing, and holding a gun, with feminism, or even revolution, but some do. Though the popular “we can do it” add with a woman flexing her muscle was just for women to work while their men were away at war to help the U.S.-economy, it shows direct conjunction with Neshat’s photo-painting due to her fascination with the role of women during the Iranian revolution. The women were an important part just like the men, showing in both instances that women can do it! The “we can do it” image can be found here:


Black Panther Party/Black Liberation Army member Safiya Bukhari, who specifically claimed in her book “The War Before” that “Islam and revolution are not a contradiction,” who was a devout Muslim and also made clear of herself having a problem with the allowance of free love between people living in houses belonging to the Panther Party, in which any man could have sex with any woman.

Feminists like “Mother Jones,” “Sojourner Truth,” and “Susan B. Anthony” did not share the same sentiments all the time. Mother Jones was a feminist, but, for a while, was also racist. “Angela Davis” on the other hand was a feminist who promoted communism and the upliftment of African people and of people in general. Communists are generally understood to be fighters against racial discrimination and/or colonialism. Davis also combatted issues of injustice across the board regarding race and of people’s influence being subverted in ruler-ships like the United States. John Lennon’s song “power to the people” was made after meeting Davis.
An image of Davis in these regards, shows them bluntly here: . The gaze is examined in the book on page 93. It says that “this field includes, among other things, the medium through which we see the image (the screen of a movie, television, cell phone, or computer or a billboard or page a newspaper or magazine) and the architectural, cultural, national, and institutional contexts in which we see the image.” Being that capitalist and communist economies have both made life hard for people, an image that may relate to the gaze to such an extent can be found here: . It is a little small on the page, but what it shows is a two-headed skeleton, a hammer and sickle/scythe on one head, and a dollar sign on the other. It should be noted that even the dollar sign in such a regard, has a lot of relation to capitalism.

Being that capitalism had its peak through the enslavement of African people, it should be important to note that the dollar sign “$” comes from a straight-up form of shackles/confinement meant for the captives’ feet during that time period. Such purpose is seen more clearly if turning the dollar sign to the left and/or right. Above the two heads it says “CAPITALISM AND COMMUNISM” below the skeleton it says “THE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN.” Between the two heads is a Star of David, the symbol of the Jewish religion. Though not every Jewish/Israeli individual is a head of a corporate position messing up people’s lives, there are a lot of Jewish individuals who have such power and are doing so, there are some who feel that such is not by accident.

The gaze comes into much relation when documenting reactions regarding the aforementioned image. Simple meditation on an image can tell one a lot about that image. Images, for example that have touched highly upon the gaze in such a regard are called mandalas.

Interestingly enough, looking at a mandala and engaging in such meditation triggers euphoria, while already being in a euphoric state, off of mild substances, and looking at the mandala, takes the high out quick after a short period of time. A mandala can be found here another one can be found here . A gaze into an image can even remind us all of looking at a beautiful woman, a man understands when he’s looking at a pretty lady, and an image of one can be found here: the painting of the half-naked woman that I showed before this one, and of Neshat’s “Rebellious Silence” also touch on the same subject. Ripped up images with or without graffiti can also perpetuate the gaze through thought on the image, from my experience. There are subway ads ripped up and/or graffiti-d on in Brooklyn, by the Loews near the Gowanus Ballroom, and they make sense, if the people in charge of making the community an opportune place to be taken care of and/or to have a good life are doing a futile job, then why respect the images propagated in the subway station?
An example of such an image can be found here:
Knowing who someone is in historical reference to an image is very valuable to understand it and/or have an opinion on it. Simple images in the context of uprisings and revolutions have a lot of cultural significance for those who understand it. A photograph of the Haitian revolution happening is depicted here: while there may be folks who see the image as a man on horseback and others with guns, this image means a lot to many people. Haiti’s army, led by Touissant L’Overture was the first to overthrow that of Napoleon Bonaparte of France. After the revolution took place Haiti enjoyed many years of prosperity. If more people were to have such a gaze at this image, displaying the progress of a triumphant event like such, they would certainly understand the removal of Jean Bertrand Aristide, by U.S.-forces, under Bush, as absolutely un-called for and unnecessary action, he had won over 80% of the Haitian vote. A simple image of a man can render in lots of approval, an image of Aristide can be found here:

Another example of approval of two men in an image can be shown through the revolution underwent by the people of Trinidad and Tobago in February of 1970. These men are pioneers of a revolution that made the countries independent. Nowadays Trinidad and Tobago is considered “the happiest place in the Caribbean.” Folks who are happy with conditions in the country would look at these men in a good regard, and gaze happily.

Two separate images of the two folks who mainly led it Khafra Kambon and Makandal Daaga, can be found here, the first is of Daaga: the second one of Kambon can be found here:
Finally, the reality of situations also comes into play when evaluating the gaze, and can boil down to the love and recognition of a man. Christopher Dudus Coke was a drug dealer and beloved member of the community in Kingston, Jamaica. He was taken in by the United States. The National Geographic show “Drugs Inc.” touches upon his popularity on the island, and notes that battles between residents and the police, on his behalf were viewed by the community as “a fight for their own existence.” With such factors taken into consideration, an image of a pro-Dudus Coke rally can now be understood with sentimental and understanding value. An image of such can be found here: another one implying loyalty to Dudus Coke, going so far as to make known that people would die for him, can be found here: .
I could not find in the index of the book, a listing for “object.” However, defines an object in many ways, they are shown below (pasted from the website)

n. ˈɒb dʒɪkt, -dʒɛkt; v. əbˈdʒɛktShow Spelled [n. ob-jikt, -jekt; v. uh b-jekt] Show IPA
anything that is visible or tangible and is relatively stable in form.
a thing, person, or matter to which thought or action is directed: an object of medical investigation.
the end toward which effort or action is directed; goal; purpose: Profit is the object of business.
a person or thing with reference to the impression made on the mind or the feeling or emotion elicited in an observer: an object of curiosity and pity.
anything that may be apprehended intellectually: objects of thought
The Pan-African/UNIA/RBG flag has been used to symbolize independence and power, the red, on top symbolizes the blood, the black, in the middle symbolizes the people, and the green on the bottom symbolizes the land. In a quotation it can be understood as “the blood my people shed for their land.” In Hip Hop group Lopango Ya Banka’s song “Mbonge” (“the land is ours”) images of the Pan-African/UNIA/RBG flag are shown while denouncing foreign influence in Africa in an encouraging, uplifting, inspiring, charismatic, and clear-cut way. That video can be found here: an individual in that video is also wearing red and green beads around his neck while also wearing a black hoodie under them. In this case such an object fits all five definitions.


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