How do YOU see the world?

Chapter 7 discussed the topic of discourse analysis. In the most basic simple terms discourse analysis is how we see the world, why we see it that way and how we act upon that way of thinking. Discourse analysis has its differences and similarities to each of the methodologies we have examined in previous chapters. Content analysis can be used to examine a large group of images as can discourse analysis. However, discourse analysis is much more flexible because it allows your materials to guide your investigation rather than vice versa and it does not rely solely on quantitative methods. Like semiotics, discourse analysis can be used to examine what is embedded in the image through what is known as “intertextuality” which is, “the way that the meanings of any one discursive image or text depend not only on that one text or image, but also on the meanings carried by other images.” However, semiology is focused solely on what is underneath the surface of an image and the arbitrary relationships of symbolic representation. Discourse analysis is much more concerned with what is on the surface of an image, and how we react to it, rather than what is underneath it . Psychoanalysis is concerned strictly with the unconscious and how it effects individual interpretation and meaning. Although discourse analysis does focus on individual interpretation and meaning it also examines social difference and construction. Basically, discourse analysis is the loophole in the world of examining imagery. The downfall to discourse analysis is knowing where to stop. Discourse analysis is so broad and can allow for so many connections to be made that one can end up over examining. Over examination results in weak connections and poor results that are unrealated to the original topic.

As designers, discourse analysis is extremely important because it examines images on an entirely different level than the previous methods of examination we have studied. Discourse is an extremely volatile thing because it changes with every person. Discourse is the “particular knowledge about the world which shapes how the world is understood and how things are done in it.” We as people are products of discourse and consequently so “are objects, relations, places, and scenes: discourse produces the world as it understands it.” Thus we come to the issue of power and how much power discourse has over us and the images we create, examine and interpret. Therefore as designers discourse analysis is imperative because it helps us make connections. These connections give us power because they help us understand a specific way of thinking that we may not have understood before. tremendously

Discourse analysis is the wild card of image examination. In many ways you use your own discourse to find discourse. There really is no right or wrong way to do it. It does not require extensive background knowledge or the use of a calculator. Discourse analysis on the image of the water flame led me to some interesting results. Many people are drawn to fire, flames and lighters. I am not saying that the world is filled with pyromaniacs. I know a number of individuals that own a zippo lighter with no use for it whatsoever. They do not smoke, they do not go camping and they not set off fireworks on a daily basis. Why do they have a zippo lighter? Zippo lighters are aesthetically pleasing and they are fun to play around with. They also produce a flame, as do all lighters that work properly. If someone hands you a lighter you are going to trigger the flame at least once or twice because there is something oddly fascinating about it. Therefore, to take a flame and make it out of water, the very substance used to put flames out, would trigger a whole new level of fascination. The water flame is a visual oxymoron and it therefore should not make any sense. However, the water flame makes perfect visual sense and plays off an obsession that already exists. Pyromaniac or not, flames are cool.

One Response to “How do YOU see the world?”

  1. salinare Says:

    I’m glad you’re not a pyromaniac.
    I was hoping to read your blog for ch 9.
    I’m a new fan of your mind.
    In Colombia we drink a drink called firewater! woah drinkable oxymoron ;)

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