The Digital Divide
“…Nonetheless the major regions that lack connection are the sub-Saharan Africa (other than South Africa) and the Indian sub-continent, creating a digital divide on a global level.” (Mirzoeff 5)
The digital divide is the division between those with access to the digital world via the Internet and those without – generally those living in lower social classes. Mirzoeff discusses the global connectivity the Internet has brought us, but much of the world has no access to this wealth of information. Therefore while the modern world progresses and is in a, “permanent revolution”, (Mirzoeff 6) much of the population is being left behind. This produces issues around equity, knowledge and widens the gap between social classes.
“A fundamental activity of language” (Clarke 23)
Naming is the action of specifying an object, feeling or place – without it we would be unable to describe, or explain anything to others. However, naming goes further than just giving an object a noun – it allows us to categorise and group objects, people and places together. Naming also involves the giving of titles, which can be both elusive and suggestive, often carrying connotations and emotions that make the item more relatable.
Describing is a detailed explanation of what we may have seen or experienced, or even what we hope to see. Depending on the context, we describe things subjectively or objectively – both of which have value and are necessary in different situations. No matter how indirect a description is, slang and jargon, “subcultural vocabulary” (Clarke 23) inevitably cause descriptions to have social and cultural associations – often excluding certain audiences from fully understanding.
Context & Contextualising
Context is essentially the background to an object – it involves the details about who made it, when and where it was made, and why. Contextualising is seeing an object in its context. It allows us to see how it connects with the world, both in the past and now. Contextualising liberates us from our personal viewpoints and allows us to see things from a different perspective. Art, music and literature, in particular are hugely influenced by their social, political and cultural context. Therefore being able to contextualise enables us to fully grasp an item’s purpose and background.
To analyse is to break down, and examine an object or artwork. Often it involves dissecting its elements, as well as comparing and contrasting. It is to look beneath its surface and really delve into why it looks and/or functions like it does, as well as uncovering its purpose and meaning. Analysing is highly subjective, as we all see from different perspectives – shaped by our personal experiences, and prior knowledge. It is important to remember that each view is of equal validity and significance.
“The first Universal medium.” (Mirzoeff 6)
A visual text is anything that can be seen that is there to communicate an idea, message or emotion. Visual texts can be both two-dimensional and three-dimensional and include photographs, film, art, sculpture and architecture. Like written text, visual texts can provoke thought and emotion – however the audience is no longer limited to those with the skills to understand and interpret written language.
Worldview in relation to audience
Your worldview is the way in which you perceive the world around you. No one has a so-called, ‘God’s eye view’ of the world. Rather, we each see the world through a unique lens – a lens that is shaped by our upbringing, travels and experiences. With every new experience a new layer is added, as our attitudes or understanding become altered, thus changing our perception of events. In relation to audience, the creator will create in order to target a specific group of people – a group that has similar worldviews. In turn, each individual in the audience reshapes the object or text through their response, a response dictated by their worldview.
The Male Gaze
In Laura Mulvey’s 1975 study of classic Hollywood cinema she coined the term ‘the male gaze.’ The male gaze is the act of looking, and reacting, from a male’s point of view. In classic Hollywood film, the audience, both men and women, were to experience the film from the male hero’s perspective – an act Mirzoeff describes as “compulsory gender manipulation” (53). The male gaze has been challenged by feminists throughout history because it objectifies, and belittles women. In our modern society, the male gaze is still evident in many films, television shows and advertisements which sexualise women.
Selfies have become the medium for a new form of digital conversation – one which is highly visual, fast paced and intense. This digital conversation can arise from ‘performance selfies’ for your digital circle due to others’ response to your image, or via applications such as snapchat which involve sending private selfies to friends. The digital conversation is quickly catching up with the verbal, “The selfie is posited as a better communication tool—faster, more representative, more immediate.” (Gomez Cruz and Thornham).
Gender performativity is an idea explored by American philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler. Gender performativity is the idea that there is no direct correlation between a person’s sexual organs and their gender (Mirzoeff 59). Gender is a social construct, something which we perform, “We act and walk and speak and talk in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.” (Butler).
An ideology is a system of beliefs, values and attitudes that is held by a collective social group rather than an individual. Ideologies are conflicting and diverse, relating to all aspects of culture such as fashion, politics, religion and lifestyle. They form our understanding of the world around us and normalise certain things such as power differences and values. This naturalisation of ideas is what leads to the Marxist concept of false consciousness, where we are exploited without realising because we have accepted these ideologies as our reality (TM Dams). According to Sturken and Cartwright, the visual culture is integral to ideologies as it projects, represents and reinforces them (23).
Butler, Judith. “Your Behavior Creates Your Gender.” Big Think. The Big Think, 19 Feb. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
Clarke, Michael. “Language and Meaning.” Verbalising the Visual: Translating Art and Design into Words. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing, 2007. 20-27. Print.
Gómez Cruz, Edgar, and Helen Thornham. “Selfies beyond Self-representation.” Journal of Aesthetics and Culture. Co-Action Publishing, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World. London: Pelican, 2015. 1-72. Print.
Ruszkiewicz, John J., Daniel Anderson, and Christy Friend. “Reading Texts.” Beyond Words: Cultural Texts for Reading and Writing. 3rd ed. Boston: Pearson, c2012. 9 – 39. Print.
Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Images, Power and Politics”. Practices Of Looking : An Introduction To Visual Culture.: New York : Oxford University Press, 2009. 22-26. Print.
TM Dams. “Media Representation Part 3.” Online video clip.
YouTube. YouTube, 4 Mar. 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.