Visual Rhetoric and Culture

Since the emergence of digital media, it has led to the creation of how various online communities play a role in shaping visual rhetoric and culture. An online community is a group of people with common interests who use the Internet (web sites, email, instant messaging, etc.) to communicate, work together and pursue their interests over time. Each of these communities has attracted individuals of all kinds to participate within that community of shared interest. Some of the communities are within platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, OkCupid, Buzz Feed, and Flickr to name a few. When I examined all these communities there was one common thread, many individuals used photos as a way to use visual rhetoric/ visual storytelling to quantify themselves. This had led me to several question, Do photos need content? Are images cultural? How has multimedia affected visual storytelling?

The key elements of my project are:

*Visual language

*Are images cultural?

*Multimedia storytelling

I want to explore the following questions “Has our cultural beliefs affected the way we interpret a image and why does it affect the way the see a image?” Over the span of all of our lives we have digested millions of images. Many of these images has shaped how we perceive the world and it has been reinforced by digital media. The visual language/ visual rhetoric, multimedia storytelling, and how our cultural beliefs leads to misinterpretation of an image has affected how we quantify ourselves and the people around us. Perhaps culture does not only play a role in who we are but severely affects how we see the world. Often times the media reinforces their interpretations of an image and try to feed it down viewers throats. This can have many affect on the psyche’s development, whether for good or for bad.

For this project I propose an experiment in which I will research 5-10 images with and without content and interview people to see how they interpret them. These images will stem from online sites such a Human of New York, famous paintings, images that have been remixed into memes. In my research I hope to identify how different cultures interpret visual images with and without content. Secondly, by . I want to examine the phycology, environmental factors, traumatic events, fear, and age to chart how those factors play a role in how our psyche interprets an image. I hope to shine a new light on how we interpret images and perhaps how we can begin to un-train our eyes. I want to provoke the questions, are we an extension of all the images we have seen throughout our lives.


  1. How does cultural beliefs affect visual storytelling?
  2. Can an image stand without content?
  3. Is age an important factor when one views an image?
  4. What factors play a part in interpretation?
  5. How does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  6. Why does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  7. Can we un-train our eyes?
  8. Are your mind and body performing better?



“Producing New and Digital Media”-Cohen and Kenny

“Writing & Editing for Digital Media”- Carroll




1 thought on “Visual Rhetoric and Culture

  1. Thanks for this post Jodie. I’m excited to see that you’re interested in exploring visual rhetoric further, as images are an integral part of new media composing. I think there is a lot more potential here, especially with thinking about not just the images themselves and their framing with text and interpretation, but also circulation and transmedia / multimedia storytelling (which we are going to discuss in class, in detail, next week).

    A few thoughts, to help you with revising:

    This project potentially seems like it can expand a lot (it asks important, but often general, large questions, such as cultural, psychological, environmental, etc. affects on interpretation of texts): how can you focus it to not only become manageable / successful within the timeframe of this semester, but also to adequately respond to this particular assignment?

    Additionally, it seems like most of the project, as outlined here, focuses on research (in this case, fieldwork / ethnography / interviewing people), rather than on new media composing (experimentation, deliverables), which is the core (and main requirement) of this particular project. You present a series of thought-provoking questions, but after I read this proposal, I don’t have a sense of how you will address these questions, what research you will conduct, what new media composing you will experiment with, what deliverables (multimodal compositions) you will produce, how you will present this project on your ePortfolio, and how you will engage in reflection throughout. Also, since you only cite the sources that are already required by the course, it is hard for me to get a sense of how your project is being individually researched / developed.

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