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




Class Notes 10/27/15

The crowdsourcing postings are not optional and counts towards our grades.  It was due two days ago and those who have not participated should go back and revisit them.  Everyone should participate in the ongoing conversation.  Credit will still be given.

For Thursday we should focus on Jones and Hafner and Cohen and Kenny.  If the Syrian boy post is not finished or posted, it should be done by Thursday.


Fola: Meme’s Ability to Change Over Time

  • Discourse communities
  • Where memes originated
  • How images are manipulated

Mariah:  “Just Do It”

  • Introduced Shia Labeouf
  • Advertising and image have merged
  • Self distribution of image and self
  • Commercial use and parodies

Samantha: Twitter: The power of a retweet

  • How we communicate on Twitter
  • Explained what retweets are and the purposes
  • Political and entertainment spreading
  • Terms and conditions of Twitter

Discussion:  “Iconographic Tracking: A Digital Research Method for Visual Rhetoric and Circulation Studies.”

We are required to rethink rhetoric and our composing strategies. It is important to the flow of new visual images.

We have a sharing society where we have the freedom to post anything as opposed to some other countries which have restrictions.

To verify stories, we should try to get at least three viable sources.

For iconic tracking, it is necessary to have a big dataset to identify patterns and terms.

Question: Does the image stand alone? Gries argues that we should be open to other possibilities.

Glossary Terms:

Creative comments: you can use other people’s images for your own purposes but you have to give credit to the original source.

Open source: relates more specifically to software which is made available openly and you don’t have to buy it.

Open access: publishing it means it can be accessed anywhere freely. It creates greater access and therefore a greater impact.