Sunday, 14 February 2010


The next assignment that we have been asked to complete is particularly useful in understanding how images are open to interpretation and how text aids us to this. Understanding the term polysemy (diversity of meanings) in a practical sense was more beneficial to me as I find it easier to understand things when I see it done or are able to do it myself. With the main aim of the task to experiment with images and objects and understand how they can be used as a research method to grasp a key theoretical concept in visual language it was important to get the correct material.

Trying to create a story using 3 images doesn't sound particularly difficult but when I was looking for the images I found it quite hard to find three that were different from one another but that would have enough in them to discuss. The three that I did eventually choose, for me, were quite unusual and had no obvious links, something that I deliberately did as I wanted people to really think about what they were looking at.

Selecting three images:

a girl

a gate

a suit of armour

Asking people with a range of ages, it was interesting to see what people took from the pictures and the connotations that they had attached to them. I started each questioning with the three images in an envelope and allowed each participant to open the envelope and hold the images the way in which they felt most comfortable. Some spread the images out, some held them - looking at one image at a time - and others laid them on their lap.

I tried to variate some factors in each experiment to see whether it affected the way the participant responded. Some of these variations included: age range, sitting down on a chair, sitting on the floor, order of the photographs, inside/outside, the way in which I worded questions.

I felt it was important that I asked each participant to describe what they saw in the image first before asking them to create a story otherwise they might have struggled. Possibly in future experiments I could just ask for a story straight away and note how that affected the response. While mentioning people's reactions, it was useful in noting how people reacted to me when I asked them for help in the experiment. Some were more 'up' for it than others, mainly the younger participants...

n: Cara Watson
a: 9
g: Female
o: School child

What can you see in the images?
Wall, window, wee girl, fruit, trees.
Knight, wall, sword.
Wee gate.

The little girl had fruit before her bed. She awoke and started to shout for her mum but she didn't hear. A knight comes into her room and says 'don't be afraid!' who then takes the little girl on an adventure to the forest. When she returns no one believes her, until the same thing happens to all her nursery friends.

n: Ceri Watson
a: 7
g: Female
o: School child

(Ceri had already made up a story before I had even showed her the photographs about witches and a forest, bless!)

What can you see in the images?
A gate with arrows on the end, rusty, white bits.
Man used to fit in suit, knife coming up, wall behind.
Girl with fruit, pigtails, blonde hair

Once upon a time, there was a man in the kingdom who tried to fight a dragon in the woods but died. His wife tried too but failed. The little girl is the lady's daughter.

For this part, I asked both the girls at the same time to see whether it affected how they responded to the images, but surprisingly they both seemed to answer individually. Both girls touched the pictures and interacted with the task well and Ceri told me many stories and treated the task like a game, unlike her mum who struggled a lot.

n: Ros Watson
a: 41
g: Female
o: BMW sales representative

What can you see in the images?
Cheeky girl (reminds her of daughter Ceri), What is she holding?, innocence of a child but cheeky.
Old railings, cemetery, time gone by.
Banbara Castle, old iron suits, era gone by.

Girl is kidnapped and locked up, the kidnapper wearing the suit of armour.

My auntie really struggled with this and I had to tell her stories that I had previously received (otherwise I could have been there all day!) What I found quite ironic about the story that she gave me was the fact she used the idea of the armour (protection) in a negative context. All the other stories I received talked about the armour in a more positive sense. Is she worried about her children?

n: Gerry Watson
a: 44
g: Male
o: Housing Officer

What can you see in the images?
girl protecting fruit.
suit of armour.

Girl protecting balls, armour protects person and gate protecting property.

n: Craig Watson
a: 14
g: Male
o: Student

What can you see in the images?
gate/fence - decayed
knight - armour
girl - Little, cute, fruit/vegetables.

Little girl puts on armour and falls over fence.

n: John Laing
a: 50
g: Male
o: Quantity Surveyor

What can you see in the image?
girl holding fruit, pigtails - different hair bobbles, big eyes, Snoopy on t-shirt, outside.
gate tied shut with wire, not been painted in a long time.
suit of armour next to door/window - hinge, no one in suit.

The little girl managed to get past guard - so small he didn't see her. She stole fruit and managed to get back with the fruit without seeing her.

n: Calum Laing
a: 16
g: Male
o: Student

Girl trying to protect balls, knight protecting her. The fence is what he needs to climb to get to her - a barrier.

It was strange how three images could spark so many stories within people and although some stories were quite similar there was also quite a lot of variation amongst the responses. It was interesting though how all the adults picked up on metaphorical things where as the younger participants told their story, well, childlike.
How is it that our perception of a story changes with age? It made me wonder whether children are more imaginative or whether our ability to describe things is simply made more complicated with the vast amount of knowledge we obtain? With the youngest pair picking up on things visually that the adults missed who paid more attention to the connotations and the mood in the images it begs the question does a child's mind work differently than an adults or is it that we take in all the visuals but are more concerned with the 'grown up' answers?

No comments:

Post a Comment