Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

A Compendium of the Visual Tropes of War

The music video above is by Serj Tankian (lead singer of System of a Down) and directed by Tony Petrossian. Depending on your taste in music, you may want to watch it with the volume turned down.

Making type taste good: Typographics

This short film by Boca and Ryan Uhrich provides an introduction to typography while illustrating some of the possibilities of typographic videos.

Read more about Making type taste good: Typographics

One Way to See the State

one way sign I live on a one way street so I’ve always viewed the “One Way” signs in my neighborhood as good information for motorists and visitors. They are excellent reminders to people that cars should only face east on Washington Street. But this altered image (actually from one block over on Madison Street, where cars travel west) reminds us that street signs are not merely about expressing information about traffic patterns; they are also the banal markers that inform us about the presence of the state’s authority.

Visualizing time

Visualizing Time: sequence image

Here’s a great collection of freehand drawings where the artists were asked to visualize time. The individual images are usually witty statements about their authors’ views of time.

Black sheep and propaganda

An election poster reading This poster is a political advertisement for the SVP (in English, the "Swiss People's Party"), a far-right political party in Switzerland that has made anti-immigration policies a centerpiece of its campaign in an upcoming election. The posters have been controversial: the tagline reads "to create security," and the image depicts three white sheep booting the black sheep from the swiss flag, presumably symbolic of Swiss territory.

Functional architecture

Stata Center, MIT. Gehry & Partners The Morgan Library and Museum exterior. Renzo Piano Building Workshop Slate has posted a slide show featuring functional architecture, emphasizing the function and versatility of buildings over Gehry-esque flashiness. This article from Good Magazine makes a similar point.

Mustache blog

I’ve spent the past hour trying to think of an educational or theoretical reason for posting this link, but I can’t come up with anything. Here it is anyway.

image from Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century

Speak, image

Abortion as the Grim Reaper (the culture wars by way of Bergman) Manohla Dargis just published her NYT review of Lake of Fire, a new documentary directed by Tony Kaye about the "abortion wars" in the U.S. (Kaye is probably most famous as the director of American History X.) Apparently, Kaye has been making this film for over sixteen years, and the duration of his effort may show in the length of the film, which clocks in at 152 minutes.

Swastika barracks

US navy's Coronado base barracks The image above was taken from Google Earth and shows the barracks at the U.S. Naval base in Corronado, California. Aparently the buildings are lovely from the ground, but from the air they’re, uh, offensive. The Navy is planning to spend “$600,000 for landscaping and architectural modifications” to alter the way the barracks look from the air. What I find interesting about this story is that Google Earth “created” this problem for the Navy. The technology literally allowed people to see this symbol. It reminded me of this passage from Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Aleph”:

Digital forensics

The New York Times has posted an interview with Dartmouth’s Hany Farid, the creator of “digital forensics.” Here’s how Dr. Farid describes the field:
It’s a new field. It didn’t exist five years ago. We look at digital media—images, audio and video—and we try to ascertain whether or not they’ve been manipulated. We use mathematical and computational techniques to detect alterations in them. Doctored Star magazine cover of Brad Pitt and Angelina JolieIn society today, we’re now seeing doctored images regularly. If tabloids can’t obtain a photo of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie walking together on a beach, they’ll make up a composite from two pictures. Star actually did that. And it’s happening in the courts, politics and scientific journals, too. As a result, we now live in an age when the once-held belief that photographs were the definitive record of events is gone. Actually, photographic forgeries aren’t new. People have doctored images since the beginning of photography. But the techniques needed to do that during the Civil War, when Mathew Brady made composites, were extremely difficult and time consuming. In today’s world, anyone with a digital camera, a PC, Photoshop and an hour’s worth of time can make fairly compelling digital forgeries.
Dr. Farid makes some other interesting claims as well. Since 1990, the percentage of fraud cases involving photos has risen from 3 percent to 44.1 percent. While the majority of the interview focuses on digital manipulation in scientific research, clearly photographic forgery is becoming a significant problem in all areas of society.

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