Images are not reflective of reality, for images create reality (Olson, Finnegan and Hope 4). Audiences draw a vast number of rhetorical interpretations when viewing an image. These interpretations help shape the way humans see and understand society today. Through the use of images authors can create reality as it relates to how to they see and interpret the world, then it is left up to the viewer on how they understand author’s choice.
The image I have chosen to illustrate in my paper comes from a collection of pictures on a blog titled Burning Man Photos. The once untitled image will be known as Speak with Your Eyes throughout the rest of the paper. It was captured in the late summer of 2007 at the popular Burning Man festival by Phil Steele photographer. Once a year participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and act as a community for a week dedicated to self-expression, art, and self-reliance (Burning Man).
Throughout the paper at hand I stress upon the contradictions drawn from the three main forceful elements of Speak with Your Eyes. I highlight the most predominant features of the image identifying their meaning. First I focus on the Man and the anguish he endures because of the chain around his neck. Secondly, I discuss the veiled woman and the common contradictions the way the Eastern vs. Western world portrays the veil. Thirdly, I focus on the overly exposed body of the woman and the garments that encapsulate her body. Lastly, I will tie together all of the contradictions that make the image forceful. But before I can do all that, let me explain what exactly the audience will be looking at.
This image depicts two subjects; a man and a woman walking along side each other in a desert. The two subjects are the main focus of the image as the background is blurry. On the left side of the image, the male subject is wearing a plush embellished red, gold and white headdress atop his head. He is dressed in an off-white and nearly see-through smock that flows delicately just past his knees. The smock appears to be made of linen that has a slit that starts near the bottom of the knees on the right side of his body and trails upward toward the top of his thigh. The man slings a black satchel across his body that starts on his left shoulder then rests diagonally down his chest where it lays effortlessly on his right, pelvic bone. The satchel’s flap is decorated in an array of colors that appear to be in tribal-like designs. Near the bottom-right and left corners of the flap, two tassels of the same colors flow with the desert wind. The mans eyes are squinted closed dressed in an expression that either exemplifies confusion, anguish or disgust articulated by the wrinkles defined on his forehead, in turning eyebrows, and closed but puckered mouth. The cause of his anguish may be in part due to the chain leash wrapped around his neck, being held up by his female counterpart. His skin is tan and facial hair scruffily lines his jawbone, chin and upper-lip. The clothing seen in Speak with Your Eyes support the claim that the two people are in a desert, because this garb is traditionally worn in these particular settings.
Moving along the short chain that links the two subjects directly together, there is a shift from the anguished man to a mysterious, veiled woman. The woman is shown holding up the chain linked to her male counterpart firmly with her right hand held high. The last predominant element highlighted in Speak with Your Eyes is the overly exposed body of the veiled woman. The woman is nearly naked with the exception of her private parts being covered. Her body is adorned with ornamental accessories that accentuate her overall appearance. The woman is thin and at the same time very curvaceous and in today’s society the American media portray sexy women as thin with minimal imperfections like the woman in this image.
The veil is black and…