What is visual rhetoric?
If we back track we can take a look simply at what the meaning of the word rhetoric is.
Rhetoric- the art of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.
That’s right. Persuasion.
Whether its a speech we hear from our Sunday sermons at church or a friend explaining his opinion over lunch at the cafe with you. All of these opinions, these arguments serves a role of a persuaded stance in your minds and whether or not you acknowledge it or not, it shapes who we are.
However. Not all things are unstoppable or uncontrollable.
From the time we are born up until we have awareness on the world around us we have this awesome gift of Freewill.
And since that Freewill operates within us everyday we can choose to agree and disagree with thousands of different versions of rhetoric everyday.
Someone can tell you that they believe even white lying is wrong and you shouldn’t (under any circumstances) lie ever. Someone else can say that you should become a vegetarian because your destroying our world with meat production.
Everything you hear is within a fleeting moment and you can choose whether to allow these things to convict your life or not.
Now back to the question:
What is visual rhetoric?
So say you like political cartoons, or comical drawings that make a joke or you watch an infomercial that tells you should donate now to the local animal shelter foundation and it shows pictures of mistreated animals.
There’s an impact. Some form of persuasion was done. Whether it or not towards you. There was one to someone else.
Which begs the question:
Are we allowed to turn off what we see as quickly as we can tune out what we hear?
But before we get to that let’s take a look at this for a second:
According to a text titled The Rhetoric of Visual Argument written by J. Anthony Blair
“Now some hold that there can be no visual arguments or visual uses of arguments in the traditional sense of an argument.
….There are two central reasons offered against the very possibilities of arguments being visual. One is that the visual is inescapably ambiguous or vague”
You’ve heard it before. You can’t trust every picture you see because the media distorts our view.
But the question isn’t about whether the argument is truthful but the fact these visual images: Visual avenues of persuading something of a view, an opinion, could be more powerful than the verbal?
We can choose to ignore listening to someone preach down our throats about something we don’t like. But even if we see a suggestive picture with a strong point could we shake it off like how we can shake what people say?
Think about it.
People believe those Facebook stories but believe it MORE when the story includes a picture that proves the story they’re telling.
Would you feel more creeped out if someone attempted to verbally described how they saw someone die for before them?
Or if they had a picture of the incident in moments before they witnessed the death?
Just like the incident in the NYC bus station.
Now this picture had an interesting slash morbid view especially when they were captions involved.
This was a real event taken place and this picture went extremely viral. Where a bystander saw the man be pushed into the tracks seconds away from the train coming. It’s also controversial as to why he didn’t save him versus taking a picture. ( In his defense, He only had 22 seconds)
The news story is here. if you’d like to read how the story progressed:
And although this death is horrific and tragic. There was a lot of buzz of the New York Post covering the story and responses a lot of blast for emphasizing the death in the angle it did.
The caption persuaded people into thinking of the picture with amplified message along with the raw feelings it gave many readers.
And that’s also another point: The picture itself stirred more buzz than the actual man being killed.
So, is visual rhetoric something we can filter in and out of our minds or does it hold more power than we allow ourselves to believe?