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Art as Persuasion “art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it” Berthold Brecht.

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Presentation on theme: "Art as Persuasion “art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it” Berthold Brecht."— Presentation transcript:

1 Art as Persuasion “art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it” Berthold Brecht

2 Art is an overlooked form of persuasion  Persuasion’s traditional focus has been on oral and/or textual messages  emphasis is on persuasion within the “world of words”  the role of images in general, and art in particular, has been neglected

3 The traditional “layperson’s” view of art  Art is created for “art’s sake”  Representational view of art—art seeks to re-create or imitate reality  Romanticism—art seeks to idealize or romanticize reality  Decorative function—art needs to match the sofa, drapes, etc. Dogs playing poker—kitsch at its finest Thomas Kinkade, “Seaside Hideaway”—mall art

4 An enlightened view of art  Art serves more than an aesthetic or decorative function  Just as “rhetoric” is more than mere eloquence  Just as novels can provide more than mere entertainment  Artists express their opinions in and through their work  Art serves social and political ends Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” which has been described as “the highest achievement in modernist political painting” (Clark, 1997), is a symbolic indictment of man’s cruelty to man during the Spanish civil war.

5 Gass & Seiter’s view  The proper study of the “art of persuasion” should include art as a form of persuasion.  Art satisfies the major requirements for persuasion:  Intentionality  Effects  Symbolic action  Free choice/conscious awareness Tracy Emin, “My Bed” postmodern feminist art

6 Controversial art  Art can create controversy, conflict, and even violence  The cover of the New Yorker depicted the Obamas as Muslim extremists  Islamic extremists rioted after a Danish cartoonist drew caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad

7 More controversial art Blessed Art Thou, by Kate Kretz My Sweet Lord, byCosimo Cavallero Napalm, by Banksy Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston, by Daniel Edward’s

8 Art shines a spotlight on society Van Thanh Rudd homage to Banksy Chris Ofili’s Virgin Mary Daniel Edwards’ Octo Mom

9 Art as a political tool of governments  Greek friezes and frescoes taught citizens moral lessons involving Greek gods and Greek mythology.  The Catholic church commissioned thousands of works of art to promote Catholicism  Politicized art: totalitarian governments used art to further the ends of the state  The doctrine of “Socialist realism” “Roses for Stalin” dedicated members of the proletariat work happily during the industrial age

10 Chinese revolutionary art  Under Mao, art’s purpose was to promote communist ideology  Poster art deified Chairman Mao  Poster art promoted the ideals of the cultural revolution

11 Pro-Government Art in the U.S.A.  This painting depicts the “New Deal” bringing electricity to rural America. At the time nine out of ten farms had no electricity. (David Stone, Electrification, 1940)

12 Art directed against governments or society  Eugene Delacroix’s, “Liberty Leading the People,”(1830) both endorses and romanticizes the French revolution.  Picasso’s “Guernica” exposes the horrors of war  Diego Rivera’s murals depicted the subjugation of the peasant class  Edvuard Munch’s “The Scream” (1893) expresses a mixture of anxiety, fear and dread toward society  Guerilla street artist “Banksy” uses stencils to offer social commentary

13 public art controversies  Recent social controversies demonstrate the persuasive potential of art  A proposal to build a monument to the firefighters at ground zero was scrapped after a feud erupted over what race the firefighters should be.  Obama-Hitler analogy

14 How Art Persuades  Art shines a spotlight on society.  Awareness via consciousness raising  The “Guerilla Girls” movement  Awareness through interpretation  Suzanne Lacy, “Three Weeks in May”  Awareness through participation  Wafa Bilal’s “Shoot an Iraqi” project  The Names Project

15 Art with a social conscience  Aschcroft Versus Lady Justice  John Ashcroft’s covered the bare breasts of the Majesty of Justice (known as Minnie Lou) in the Great Hall of the Justice department  Aschroft said he wasn’t comfortable being photographed at press conferences in front of the her large, aluminum breasts  The new, blue velvet drapes cost $8,000  Dread Scott Tyler and the American Flag  A Republican led group filed a lawsuit to ban Dread Scott Tyler’s display, “What is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag?”  The Judge dismissed the suit reminding the court works of art are protected under the First Amendment. Three boobs in this picture? Tyler’s “What is the Proper way to Display the American Flag” on display at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago

16 Art as a form of consciousness raising  The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) uses mural to address community issues, foster cross-cultural understanding, and promote civic dialogue

17 Art as an instrument for social change  “Art has long been a powerful weapon in the activist's arsenal.” (Fred Baerkircher)  Artists use art to critique society and promote social change  Artists use art to engage the public and increase public awareness of social issues Activists who belong to the “Art and revolution project” protest multinational corporations and the WTO through performance art

18 Participation through interpretation  Participation through interpretation  observers reflect on what an exhibit means or what the artist is trying to say.  In their effort to understand the exhibit viewers engage in active thinking or central processing  Active participation (increasing involvement)  observers don’t just observe  they become part of the art  Peggy Diggs “Domestic Violence Milk Carton Project” Barbara Donachy, “Amber Waves of Grain” Suzanne Lacy, “Three weeks in May” (1977)

19 Participatory art  Shoot an Iraqi: Wafaa Bilal lived in a room for 30 while Web viewers were allowed to shoot him via a remote-controlled paint gun.  Over 60,000 shots were fired by people from over 100 countries.

20 Art as consciousness raising--continued  The AIDS memorial quilt, a.k.a. the NAMES project  the largest community art project in the world  hand-sewn folk art panels commemorate those who have died of AIDS  the quilt is designed to increase awareness and decrease homophobia  each panel puts a human face on the grim statistics  traveling exhibits take the quilt to the people “There was hope we could beat the disease by using the quilt as a symbol of solidarity, of family and community; there was hope that we could make a movement that would welcome people—men and women, gay and straight, of every age, race, faith, and background” (Cleve Jones, co-founder of the NAMES project).

21 How art persuades--iconicity  Images stand for and resemble the things they represent  Images can sum up a concept:  the “trash can” icon in Windows, female and male silhouettes on a restroom door  Paintings of portraits, landscapes, and still life are iconic representations of people, places, and things Assorted icons The bald eagle as an icon for America An icon for ignoring a problem

22 Iconicity--continued  Iconic art needn’t be accurate, objective  Iconic art can glamorize, romanticize, stereotype, vilify  Example: political caricatures  Example: paintings of the crucifixion or the last supper  Example: Medieval paintings as allegories  Icons can evoke emotional responses in receivers

23 iconicity in political cartoons  Pinocchio’s long nose is an iconic representation lf lying  Depicting a politician with a long nose makes the visual claim that the politician is a liar.

24 Appropriating corporate icons  Health Gap is an activist group seeking increased awareness and funding for HIV/AIDS in Africa  Coca Cola is the largest private sector employer in Africa, but only 1.5% of Coke’s workers are eligible for HIV/AIDS drugs  Controversial art transforms a passive viewer into an active thinker  may increase central processing  may trigger cognitive dissonance

25 Indexicality in Goya’s art Goya’s, “The Third May” (1808) depicts Spanish partisans, arms outstretched, being ruthlessly gunned down by Napoleon's troops Notice: the painting offers visual “proof” that the atrocity took place.

26 Indexicality This painting by John Trumbull supposedly “documents” the signing of the Declaration of Independence. However, no such ceremony actually took place.

27 Indexicality--continued  The documentary aspect of images can be misleading  Art can serve up inaccurate records of events  Greek sculptures idealized the human body  Photographs can be airbrushed or digitally altered When Time magazine reproduced O.J. Simpson’s picture on its cover, the image was darkened to make him appear more sinister and menacing The Cottingly Fairies: In 1916 Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, perpetrated a hoax involving photos taken with fairies.

28 The camera always lies: the myth of photographic objectivity  April 2, 2003: Brian Walski, a photographer for the L.A. Times, digitally “doctored” a photograph of a British soldier guarding civilians. The photo was published on the front page of the L.A. Times  The photo, shown below, is actually a composite of the two separate photos on the right.  Walski was fired because "Times policy forbids altering the content of news photographs."

29 The camera always lies  More digital editing

30 You can’t trust what you can see…  In the digital age, images are malleable, changeable, fluid. In movies, advertisements, TV shows, magazines, we are constantly exposed to images created or altered by computers.  “photography is highly interpretive, ambiguous, culturally specific, and heavily dependent upon contextualization by text and layout.“  Fred Ritchin, In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography, New York: Aperture, 1990, 81. Soon after 9/11, a camera was “found” on the sidewalk that happened to survive the collapse of the Twin Towers. When the film was developed, it revealed a tourist in the wrong place at the wrong time. The picture is a fake.

31 How art persuades—syntactic indeterminacy  Images, unlike language, lack logical operators  Images can’t convey:  cause-effect relationships  if-then relationships  either-or relationships  Images can convey  spatial relationships: higher, lower, bigger, smaller  chronological relationships: before, after, the passage of time  analogies or comparisons Joe Rosenthal’s photo of Iwo Jima, 1945 Tom Franklin’s photo of Ground zero, Sept. 11, 2001

32 But syntactic indeterminacy can be an advantage  Images can equate one thing with another via associations  The associations may be subtle or obvious

33 syntactic indeterminacy--continued  Images as narratives: panels from Diego Rivera’s “History of Mexico,” tell a story about the ongoing conquest and subjugation of the peasants

34 In conclusion  Art can be controversial  It can challenge the existing social order.  It can make people angry. It can offend.  It can heighten people’s awareness.  It can make people question their assumptions. It can change the way they see things.  It can make them reconsider their assumptions.  In so doing, art persuades.


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