American Icons: The Genesis of a National Visual Language by Benedikt Feldges

By Benedikt Feldges

Regardless of the paintings that has been performed at the strength of visible communique generally, and in regards to the social impression of tv particularly, television’s dating with truth remains to be whatever of a black field. Even this day, the conference that the monitor services as a window on fact buildings a lot of the creation and reception of televisual narratives. yet as truth should turn into historical past at one element, what are we to do with such home windows at the earlier? constructing and utilising a hugely leading edge method of the fashionable picture, American Icons sets out to show the historicity of icons, to reframe the heritage of the monitor and to dissect the visible middle of a medium that continues to be so poorly understood. Dismantling the air of secrecy of it seems that undying icons and prior spectacles with their seductive energy to draw the attention, this e-book bargains new methods of seeing the mechanisms at paintings in our glossy pictorial tradition.

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Extra info for American Icons: The Genesis of a National Visual Language (Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies)

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In this mode, the significance of icons and emblems as outstanding terms of a collective visual literacy assumes a peculiar kinship with the “big” outstanding historical events, creating a kaleidoscopic order in which a shot of Marilyn Monroe fits naturally beside pictures of events such as the Bay of Pigs, the first American flight into outer space, Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam, or the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Like the beads in a kaleidoscope that fall into perfectly ordered patterns with every turn, the historical pictures of the documentary seem automatically to arrange their historical status from one topic to the next.

These appear on more than a hundred occasions between 1950 and 1980. By stopping the VCR, those flashes can sometimes be captured as an almost blank, white frame, and sometimes just as a smaller white patch within the picture. Challenging the theory of visual language at the very beginning of this analysis, the pictorial imprint of these simple white patches conflicts with the communicative structure of visual signs and symbols. 2 But then again, they also “signal” to the media-literate the presence of another photo camera at the scene.

Catering to the widespread convention of associating pictures with memory, as discussed in the sections on collecting historical footage, the commentary encourages reception of the pictures as memories of the past, the only author of which is the individual recollection of the receiver herself. The absent differentiation between memory and visual literacy, or between having seen the original broadcast and having actually witnessed the original event, further corroborates the documentary’s treatment of the footage as a self-contained vessel of historical truth.

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