Crowdsourcing Laura Gries’s article on Circulation and Iconographic Tracking

Here, we’ll continue the discussion we began in class this week about Gries’s article, “Iconographic Tracking: A Digital Research Method for Visual Rhetoric and Circulation Studies.”

This is a challenging article (on many levels), so let’s first tackle what the article is actually saying by crowdsourcing her main claims (thesis, points, evidence in support of those points) here. Then we can also unpack them, asking clarifying questions, complicating them, challenging then with provocations and counter-arguments, etc.

Don’t forget to include citations in MLA format when you refer to the text.

6 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing Laura Gries’s article on Circulation and Iconographic Tracking

  1. “..rhetoric emerges from human relation with eventful things…” (page 338)

    Which also relates to the idea six lines up that it brings people together as well as divides them. Memes are peoples take on a current event and the exercise we did with the Syrian boy is a great example. That meme had both emotional and raunchy comic contexts and the people who reposted them sat on one side or the other of what they thought of the situation. Notably we can say not all memes are made in the best taste.

    “Transformation is studied by paying attention to how a circulating image changes….” (page 343)

    This is super interesting because as a few of us pointed out in our presentations a meme never stays the same it evolves. As it makes its way through the media world it enters smaller communities and each meme takes on a whole new meaning based on that groups use of it. Tracking that transformation is powerful because we’re able to see just how far an image can travel through cyberspace.

  2. “…the Obama Hope image is simply a rhetorical tour de force whose consequential impact just keeps going and going” (Gries 345).

    Can a digital image ever really be finished or is it forever evolving into something else?

    In many respects, the images seem to grow stronger through repetition. As the image is transformed and circulated, it increases in intensity and becomes an collaborative effort with many layers. It’s strange to think of an image as an “event” but I can see why Gries makes that claim as Obama’s image is more than just a picture, it’s an occurrence that is happening.

  3. “Studying an image’s eventfulness is also necessary for addressing the complexities of visual production, distribution, and circulation brought on by a viral economy” (355)

    What is it meant by ‘eventfulness’? Is it the timeliness it enters into a market or a platform?

    And how do these complexities help or prohibit our understanding and/or interpretation of an image?

  4. “We need methods that can explain how new media practices enable things to experience reproduction and redistribution and thus circulate widely at viral speeds”(335)

    What types of method can we produce?

  5. “….digital technologies, participatory media platforms, and various actor-networks contribute to the circulation and transformation of things in both digital and physical realms” (Gries 335). Because of these affordances, we then live “in an age of viral media, once produced and distributed in a networked pathway, images rapidly undergo change in terms of location, form, media, genre, and function” (Gries 335). This is significantly true in that my presentation about the “Y U No Guy” meme originated from a print Japanese magazine and due to circulation within the digital realm, the photo took on a whole new person.

  6. “Obama Hope has become wildly consequential as it shifts from, among other things, an illustration to propaganda to a genre of critique to a touchstone for copyright law and remix. These consequences will only continue to propagate as this image lives on beyond this moment. Already new consequences, and thus meanings, are forming as I type this article and new folks encounter the image on their own. Tomorrow, even more consequences will materialize. We can only be open to tracing such multifaceted meanings by thinking intuitively about visual rhetoric, especially in an age of viral circulation. Thus, in essence, thinking intuitively is an exercise in attending to the futurity of things it helps form the habitus of method necessary for attending to the open-ended rhetorical becomings that so often go invisible in much visual rhetorical scholarship” (338).

    Generally speaking, we live in a remixing culture where remixing is an activity consisting of the creative exchange of information and where digital technology makes it possible. Remixing is really the activity of taking something from a pre-existing material and combining it into a new form. As a form of communication, remixing creates new meaning out of the original materials. From there, it addresses another audience from the original intended.

    This makes me wonder whether there are any limitations to what is acceptable. Does it make any difference if the changes are significant or small? How fair is it that images can be used as propaganda, even when not the original intentions? Also how fair is it when the remix uses the same image to challenges the original image and claims autonomy?

    In this digital era, ‘free’ is a code that protects people who would copy other people’s work. But how right is a society where we are able to download, text, and store images and feel that we are valid creators and artist entitled to change and rearrange them?

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