Rachel Schneider's blog

Reaction Shots and Reader Response at the Purple Wedding

Image of Joffrey Baratheon on Game of Thrones, choking, with text overlaid: 'Those shoes, with that dress?'

Image Credit: Cyndicyanide

[Note: Spoilers below the cut.]

As a Game of Thrones fan, I was pretty excited to watch this last week’s episode. It’d been a while since I’d watched, and the wedding of Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell gathered together many of the show’s beloved characters.

State-Craft or The Art of Leadership in George W. Bush's Paintings

Photograph from George W. Bush Presidential Center's exhibit on The Art of Leadership

Image Credit: Kim Leeson / George W. Bush Presidential Center

Last year, an adventurous hacker found and leaked pictures of paintings made by former President George W. Bush, including two revealing self-portraits from the shower. Now, the private hobby has been made public by President Bush himself. The George W. Bush Presidential Library, up the road in Dallas, has just opened an exhibit, The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy, which features portraits Bush painted of the world leaders he once encountered as President, paired alongside mementos from his travels and his musings about statecraft. However, what makes these paintings remarkable for viewers?

Convicting Capital Punishment in Art

 A black screen with white print that says 'I love ya'll.'

Image Credit: Screenshot from Tiny Subversions

When you live in Texas, you get used to people asking you to verify certain popular stereotypes: cowboy boots, country music, ten-gallon hats, and conservative politics. And—a belief in the capital punishment.

Casino's Law: Defending American Liberties in Personal Injury Attorney Advertisements

Image of Jamie Casino opening double wooden doors to a church, standing between them, while wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses.

Image Credit: Screenshot from Vimeo

The Super Bowl, with an audience of 111.5 million people, tends to be a place where the definition of “American” is equally invoked and contested. Not only do the hard hits and pick-sixes play out America’s strength, but also the commercials display American ingenuity and self-expression. After all, what could be more American than Bob Dylan in a Chrysler commercial, a cowboy driving a Chevy Silverado, a multilingual performance of “America the Beautiful” over a bottle of coke? At this year’s Super Bowl, only a personal injury attorney ad could top these greats.

Winning Humility at Awards Shows

Macklemore accepting his award at the Grammys

Image Credit: Huffington Post/Getty Images

The Grammys provided plenty of viz bait: Beyoncé twerking with Jay-Z, unlikely performing duos like Robin Thicke and the band Chicago, Pharrell’s be-memed hat, and Taylor Swift’s GIF-able dancing. However, what I want to discuss is something that occurred after the Grammys: Macklemore, who won awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Album, acknowledged another victor after the fact.

Beyonce's ***Flawless Feminism

Beyonce confronting the camera in video

Image Credit: Screenshot from "***Flawless" video

I’m so glad to be back on viz again after some time away, especially as having to write posts again gives me the chance to discuss Beyoncé Knowles’s newest record, Beyoncé, which was released without any press or preview in late December as a “visual album.” The album has 14 songs and 17 videos included in it. While critics had things to say about Jay-Z’s verse on “Drunk in Love” and the remixed audio from the 1986 Challenger disaster in “XO,” the most noticeable song was “***Flawless,” which features an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk on feminism. Paste Magazine’s review of the album noted the album’s feminist thematics, which others have discussed as well. Since I’d like to add to this conversation about Beyoncé’s feminism, I thought I’d take up how Beyoncé’s visuals, especially in “***Flawless,” depict those concerns.

Framing Subjects: Arnold Newman’s Editorial Practice

Arnold Newman self portrait, posed next to a piano and his framed portrait of Igor Stravinsky

Image Credit: The Harry Ransom Center

Walking through the Harry Ransom Center’s Arnold Newman: Masterclass exhibit with a photographer friend helped me notice more than Newman’s numerous famous subjects. Creating a portrait requires more than just telling someone to smile or to stand in fair light; good photographers must understand how composition affects the final product. Framing matters, whether that’s done by putting wood around a picture or deciding where and how you crop the shot. The exhibit allows visitors to examine Newman’s artistic process, showing the evidence of how he edited his raw photographs into finished portraits. I want to look at in this post both his famous shot of Igor Stravinsky and his created “portrait” of Marilyn Monroe to think more about what we can learn about visual and non-visual editorial practice.

What Pride and Prejudice Tells Us About The Future of the Book

Title page for first edition of Pride and Prejudice

Image Credit: The Independent

While Caroline Bingley enumerates the accomplishments of elegant females in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy makes one significant addition: “to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” This pivotal scene, in which Darcy hints at the attraction to Elizabeth Bennet that blindsides her later, may charm audiences in part because Jane Austen, like her readers, cares about the written word. Austen parodied the sentimental and the gothic novels respectively in Love and Freindship and Northanger Abbey, defended the novel as a genre in Northanger Abbey, and showed her characters equally interested in reading. Fanny Price rhapsodizes as she joins a circulating library and becomes “a chooser of books” in Mansfield Park, Anne Elliot discusses poetry and prose with Captain Benwick in Persuasion, and Sanditon’s proto-villain Sir Edward Denham fancies himself “quite in the line of the Lovelaces.” Yet reading practices today are not the same as they were ten years ago, let alone as they were when Pride and Prejudice was first published on 28 January 1813.

Wild Horses and Bayonets Couldn’t Drag My Binders Full of Women Away: Political Satire on Web 2.0

Screenshot of the Twitter feed of Invisible Obama, taken 23 January 2013

Image Credit: Screenshot from Twitter

Inauguration officials estimate that about one million people crowded the National Mall this weekend to watch Barack Obama be sworn in as President. While this crowd was smaller than the 1.8 million who attended his first inauguration in 2008, a number of luminaries were present: Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, and Invisible Obama. Apparently Invisible Obama had a busy day planning his inaugural ball outfit, surprising Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and acting as a “seat filler.”

New Forms for Old Needs in Norman Bel Geddes’s "House of Tomorrow"

This image is the floor plans for Norman Bel Geddes's House of Tomorrow

Image Credit: Metropolis Magazine

Walking through the Harry Ransom Center’s excellent Norman Bel Geddes exhibit, one thing that struck me is that while Bel Geddes is particularly famous for his large industrial designs—radios, cars, cities, and stadiums, for example—he also directed his talents towards the intimate spaces of the American home. Before Bel Geddes designed prefabricated homes for the Housing Corporation for America in 1939, or published his 1932 book Horizons, he wrote an article called “The House of Tomorrow” for the April 1931 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. The “twentieth-century style” he describes is one that he sees uniting form and function anew for the needs of the twentieth-century individual—or rather, what he imagines the twentieth-century individual to be.

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