Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

Scientific Imaging & Looking Inside a Knee

Over the summer I was unfortunate enough to require a reconstruction of my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). As I was wheeled out of the clinic in an anaesthetic haze, my doctor handed me a series of photos not unlike the ones below. Endoscopic Images of Knee Interior

Scientists investigate paintings for clues about volcano eruptions

The Fighting Téméraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken by J. M. W. Turner, 1838 GLOBAL WARMING!


On the heels of yesterday’s post about the art (and absolute fidelity to reality) of scientific photographs, this story from The Guardian describes how scientists from the National Observatory of Athens are investigating sunset paintings “to work out the amount of natural pollution spewed into the skies by [volcanic] eruptions such as Mount Krakatoa in 1883.” Apparently the method has some validity:
They used a computer to work out the relative amounts of red and green in each picture, along the horizon. Sunlight scattered by airborne particles appears more red than green, so the reddest sunsets indicate the dirtiest skies. The researchers found most pictures with the highest red/green ratios were painted in the three years following a documented eruption.
via Boing Boing

Microscopic photography at the Micropolitan Museum

A cross section of a Leaf of Prunus Laurocerasus, Common Cherry laurel Those of you interested in the rhetoric of science should enjoy The Micropolitan Museum of Microscopic Art Forms, which is supported by the fantastically-named Institute for the Promotion of the Less than One Millimeter. The site boasts some beautiful imagery which, along with the accompanying text, should be able to spark some fantastic discussions about the relationship of visuals and scientific knowledge.

"The Shock Doctrine"

This video does contain some pretty disturbing imagery of people receiving shock therapy and other forms of state-sanctioned violence. So consider yourself warned before you click "play."

Read more about "The Shock Doctrine"

9/11 Report -- Graphic Novel vs. Authorized Edition

Students in my Rhetoric of Spying Class recently read sections of the 9/11 Commission Report, along with the graphic novel version of the report (for a thorough discussion of the graphic novel version and its critics, including some great links, click here).

Wolrd Freedom Atlas

The World Freedom Atlas gathers a number of interesting datasets related to world politics and human rights and converts them into a dynamic map display. Interestingly, the visual display helps to foreground the rhetorical choices made by the authors of those datasets. For instance, the map below displays a country’s governmental structure, ranging from a parliamentary democracy (white) to monarchic dictatorship (dark blue) (Cheibub and Gandhi, 2004). Notice that the U.S., a presidential democracy, falls in the middle of the classification scheme, closer to the dictatorships than Canada and Australia, which are both white, as well as Russia, which is a light teal.

world map showing Cheibub and Gandhi's regime institutions via Information Aesthetics

Blogger Play Photos

I just came across this nifty new feature from blogspot called "Blogger Play." Its designers describe Blogger Play as "a real-time slideshow of photos Blogger users have recently uploaded to their blogs. It's a great snapshot of what people are thinking and posting about, right now!" While it may not actually be as exciting as their exclamation point suggests, it's still pretty mesmerizing. Most of the photos are pretty mundane, lots of them are weird, and of course there are tons and tons of baby pictures.

“A Soviet Poster A Day” delivers propaganda with commentary

A Soviet Poster A Day” serves up images of Soviet propaganda posters with commentary. This site would be a great resource for anyone studying propagandistic images. Here’s an entry on the Five Year Plan:

There's Enargeia and then there's *Enargeia*

Over at No Caption Needed, Robert Hariman pieced together a rather precise visual argument by sequencing a series of images from 9/11 and the war in Iraq. While we could spend many a blog entry on the imagery of terror and war or on the function of visual images in argument, the Hariman sequence seems to provide an excellent in-class opportunity to dwell on the different persuasive registers present in visual communication and political speeches that invoke the same imagery.

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