Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sturken & Cartwright: Viewers Make Meaning

The Eye of the Beholder

Have you ever looked at a picture and absolutely loved it, but never seem to get the same reaction from others? Obviously, tastes differ and people may like mountain views more than ocean views, but to me, at the core of everything is the connection a viewer makes; a connection to a past experience, a memory, a person, place that they want to be. This is what makes certain photographs so special to each viewer.

For example, this picture of the sun reflecting on the ocean is perhaps overly simple, but means the world to me. I took the picture on my Blackberry two summers ago, so it clearly is not the best quality nor overly interesting. I was on the ferry on a sunny day, headed to my favorite place in the world (Block Island), about to see some of my closest friends that I hadn't seen in several months when I took the picture. Now, whenever I look at this picture, I get a nostalgic feeling and instantly feel happy, even without a context. 

Being from the Ocean State, I also feel a sense of home when I see the ocean. However, as Sturken and Cartwright were discussing, I am part a group of viewers, and in order to fully understand the image I must understand my lack of individuality. When someone from a land-locked state sees an image containing the ocean do they think of vacation since the sea is less prevalent in their home?

Do Producers exist?

Barthes discusses how there is really no author of producer, but rather that texts are produced by the act of viewing them. If there is a website that exists to explain how the galaxy works, for example, can you really say that it is produced if it is never seen? It is there physically, but never being viewed negates the legitimacy of it. This is an interesting concept that could be taken too far philosophically, although it fits for the purpose of the article. 

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