The Annotated Program…VisCom26, Midway, UT

This annotated program includes those abstracts that were received through the Submission form on this website. Presenters: If you have an abstract that is not included here… or if you wish to make edits to your abstract below, send it to roconnell at

2012-06-20 • Wednesday

06:30 PM – 08:30 PM

  • Reception & Gathering of Friends:
    Greeting, meetings, and general good cheer accompanied by convivial consumption of liquids and desserts.
    07:30 Announcements & self introductions

08:30 PM • Welcome

  • Signs of Utah, Craig Denton, University of Utah

2012-06-21 • Thursday

07:30 AM – 09:00 AM • Breakfast

09:10 AM – 09:50 AM • Watching the World: Digital Media and Global Citizen Journalism

Chair: Quingjiang (Q.J.) Yao, Fort Hays State University

  • Culture jamming warfare on YouTube: Framing Haditha – Sarah Merritt, American University


  • Interactive ethnography and the Belgian Congo – Rulon Wood, Westminster College
    During the past several years I have developed an interactive ethnographic study of the narratives contained within the Royal Museum for Central Africa, one of the last remaining colonial museums in the world.  As part of this study, I have carefully photographed all of the visual displays contained within the museum, interviewed key personnel, and recorded my own reactions to the exhibits. Along with the museum, I have also interviewed 40 colonial veterans who worked in the Belgian Congo during the 1950s and 1960s.  Within these interviews, I attempted to uncover the narratives of colonization as contained within the various participants descriptions of their time in the Congo. At this point in the study, I have created an extensive website that hyperlinks all of the resources together into a pastiche of narratives regarding colonization. Additionally, I have embedded my own analysis and reflective comments concerning the development of the project. I would like to present this site as a means of demonstrating future directions of interactive narrative and ethnographic work. 

09:50 PM – 10:30 PM • Constructing Authority in the Media 

Chair: Sheree Josephson, Weber State University

  • Believe me, I’m a doctor: A visual analysis of credibility in “The Dr. Oz Show” – Travis Cox, Oregon State University
    Everyday approximately five million viewers tune in to watch “The Dr. Oz Show” to get health tips on everything from nutrition to medications often presented visually through the use of props and computer generated graphics.  Although Dr. Mehmet Oz is a professor at Columbia Medical School and a well-known author, he has received a wide variety of criticism from medical professionals who argue that particular topics and suggestions he has made on his show are potentially harmful or unsupported by medical science.  Due to the fact that the heath tips on “The Dr. Oz Show” are presented as factual information, viewers are implicitly asked to accept Dr. Oz as a credible source of information and are simultaneously discouraged to question the source or accuracy of what they are being told. As a result, since millions of people trust “The Dr. Oz Show” to provide them with health information that is potentially misleading or dangerous, it is important to understand why Dr. Oz is seen as a credible source.  Unlike his radio shows and self-help books, “The Dr. Oz Show” presents health information in a primarily visual way.  Therefore, examining how credibility is being established visually is vital to understanding how his audience is being influenced by this television program.  Aristotle argued that ethos, or a speaker’s credibility, is established through good sense, good moral character, and goodwill.  By using this methodological approach, this analysis will look at the way visual elements presented in “The Dr. Oz Show” are being used to establish these three characteristics or credibility. This visual analysis of “The Dr. Oz Show” is significant because it identifies why audiences accept Dr. Oz as a credible source of health information regardless of its accuracy.  It is important that television audiences are made aware of how the use of visual elements in programs like “The Dr. Oz Show” not only influence their ability to interpret the messages they receive, but also fundamentally shape their perception of the person communicating these messages as well.  Although this type of visual analysis can be applied to a wide variety of television programs, criticism relating to the potential danger of some of the messages presented in “The Dr. Oz Show” makes this particular talk show a valuable subject of visual examination.


  • The picture of parenthood presented by parenting publications – Jessica Troilo, West Virginia University
    Stereotypes are widely held beliefs about the attributes of individuals or groups, which may be somewhat accurate, but might also be based on false or exaggerated information.  Stereotypes are helpful because they streamline thought processes, but they can also further negative or inaccurate assumptions about stereotyped groups if they function as preconceived conclusions or rigid judgments about people. One way to observe stereotypes is to review the content of magazines, particularly the advertisements. Advertisements tend to lag behind social change. Therefore, to learn more about how fathers are portrayed and stereotyped in American culture, I will conduct a content-analysis of the depiction of fathers in parenting magazines. This project is an update to the project I presented on last year. For this year’s conference, I will discuss the phases of data collection and analysis related to a variety of different parenting magazines (e.g., Parenting, Pregnancy and Newborn, Kiwi, Working Mother, Parenting: Toddlers).  First, I have coded the titles only of content-focused articles (i.e., articles that are accompanied by text) for whether they are mother-focused, father-focused, or family-focused. Second, I have coded the titles plus the pull-out quotes for whether they are mother-focused, father-focused, or family-focused. Finally, I have coded the titles, pull-out quotes, and photos that run with the magazines for whether they are mother-focused, father-focused, or family-focused. This represents a more methodologically sound approach compared to what I discussed last year, and, I believe, a more thorough approach to understanding how parenting magazines view fathers and fatherhood. The codes are being analyzed using the constant comparative approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1969) meaning that the data were compared across categories and across stages of data collection in order to more fully understand the portrayal of fathers in parenting magazines. Thus far (the research is still in progress), results have been rather telling. For example, although much of the language in parenting magazines are gender-neutral and family focused, the pull-out quotes and especially the pictures that run with the articles are heavily mother-focused. This suggests that while parenting magazines may believe they are doing well to use gender-neutral language, the entire picture of parenthood they are selling is that fathers are less important and less present. Attendees will view examples of the story titles, pull-out quotes, and especially the photos. The lack of fathers in parenting magazines is somewhat disturbing, particularly when we currently expect fathers to be physically, fiscally, and psychologically involved with their children. Although I realize that parenting magazines are targeted towards women, the content is sending a clear message that fathers are far less interested, capable, or present in families compared to mothers. 

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM • Break

10:45 AM – 11:45 AM • Visual Memes

Chair: Stuart Kaplan, Lewis & Clark College

  • Occupy Wall Street meets Occupy Iraq Internet Humor, Dissonance, Dissent, and Cultural Critique – Stefka Hristova, Michigan Technological University
    On November 18, 2011, nonviolent student protesters on the University of California Davis campus, part of the Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS) were subjected to the ruthless actions of the police: they were callously pepper sprayed while peacefully protesting. In response to the outrageous actions of the police, thousands of people in the United States created photoshoped digital collage images that portrayed Lt. Pike, the starring offender, in a variety of different contexts pepper spraying anything. This humorous digital practice became known overnight as the “Pepper Spray Cop” meme. In one of the images posted on the website Lt. John Pike is photoshoped in a photograph from the Abu Ghraib tortures, featuring Lynndie England and a row of naked Iraqi detainees: campus police Pike now pepper sprays military police England. Here Occupy Wall Street met Occupy Iraq as two digital memes collided—namely the “Pepper Spray Cop” and the “Doing a Lynndie” Internet phenomena. In the summer and fall of 2004, in response to the outrageous actions of England, thousands of people from around the world posted photographs of themselves and of their friends in Lynndie-like poses on the British website Bad Gas initiating the “Doing a Lynndie” meme. In this article, I analyze the transformation of iconic images of traumatic historical events into everyday humorous practice in order to illuminate the mechanisms of remembering and forgetting that operate in a digitized popular culture. I juxtapose the dissonance  embedded in the image-icon to the ability of laughter to manifest as a form of dissent in order to examine the ways in which Internet humor can function as a device for cultural critique as well as a device for the legitimation of dominant historical narratives in the contexts of two seemingly divergent modes of “occupation.”  More specifically, I engage in a comparative analysis of the two internet-driven memes described above – “Pepper Spray Cop” and “Doing a Lynndie” – in order to explore the role digital media has played in the formation of “history[ies] of perception”  of these events. Building upon the work of Erwin Panofsky and Pierre Bourdieu, I trace the transformation of images into gestures, of histories into habits. I analyze the power of the image-icon to evoke history, to function in Walter Benjamin’s terms as a monad  and juxtapose this process of evocation to the process of forgetting that occurs when history is transformed into everyday common sense. In sum, I analyze the role of digital media in the mobilization of narratives and practices of critique as well as affirmation of casual state-authorized brutality, in the activation of disruptive histories to bear upon the present and the neutralization of traumatic events into humorous everyday gestures.  


  • The Officer Pike Meme as Postmodern Play in the Networked Condition – Susan Sci, Regis University and Alexa Dare, Gonzaga University
    The contrast is striking. Officer John Pike appears to be casually strolling along as nonviolent UC-Davis protesters crouch in front of him futilely attempting to shield themselves from the fierce stream of orange pepper spray he directs just inches from their faces. The juxtaposition of the violent act taken by the seemingly indifferent officer and the passionate determination of the nonviolent protesters punished for their civil disobedience visually and affectively encapsulates the moment. This intense contrast helped transform the photo into a scathing viral sensation exposing Officer Pike to worldwide mockery as an internet meme. This presentation will theorize how memes function as forms of postmodern play via the analysis of the rhetorical and cultural significance of the Officer Pike meme. Dubbed as the “pepper spaying cop”, memes of Office Pike sprang up less than twenty four hours after Louise Macabitas, the photographer, posted the photo to her Facebook wall. The first meme appeared on Reddit which substituted “Strutting Leo” for Officer Pike but the second one established the most prominent memetic pattern, Officer Pike was photoshopped into John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence. Since then, Pike’s likeness has appeared in a dizzying array of images ranging from artistic masterpieces such as Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Picasso’s Guernica to the iconic photos of Lam Van Tuc’s self-immolation and the Times’ Square VJ Kiss to notable popular culture favorites like Twilight and The Wizard of Oz “—even a lovable baby seal gets it right in the face. Memes are small units of discursive and visual information which can be cut, copied, reimagined and circulated throughout web and social media networks with lightening speed. The alacrity with which Officer Pike memes were created and went viral speaks volumes to its political, cultural and social significance. Memes are meant for trending; they momentarily catch and capture attention long enough to be recognized, appreciated and added to as they are passed along a seemingly limitless number of media platforms. Within less than a week, Officer Pike memeplexes, or collections of memes, were featured on ABC News, Facebook, Gawker, Huffington Post, YouTube, Washington Post, BoingBoing, Daily Kos, Tumblr, and Buzzfeed. Our presentation will address how memeplexes emphasize the playfulness of viral imagery within contemporary network culture. Individually, the rhetorical functions of Officer Pike memes vary from political critique and cultural commentary to absurdist humor. But collectively, the functions of this memeplex is based on the accumulation of meaning across its memetic range which, we contend, shifts the focus from the context of the originating image to the individual visual unit that is continually replicated. Simply put, by playfully inserting Officer Pike into other images to create a new visual memes, his behavior becomes the focal point of public discourse but the reason the event happened in the first place – the UC Davis Occupy Movement – gets discarded as the “useless” part of the original photo.


  • “Scumbag Steve would never say that”:  Visual policing on college meme pages – Bob Britten, West Virginia University
    This research explores how Web users regulate, approve, and challenge others’ use of image memes to communicate. Memes are small units of culture, similar to genes, which are created, evolve and travel through interpersonal contact (Dawkins, 1976). An example might be a joke about a supposedly foolish group, which depending on the context might be about a nationality (e.g., Polish jokes), race, or genetic feature (e.g., blonde jokes). Memes exist in all modes of communication, but study of Web memes has been limited (Shifman & Thelwall, 2009). A number of college-specific meme pages (e.g., “Pitt Memes”) were created on Facebook in early 2012. Using sites such as, users create memes and post them to these pages, and others may “like,” comment on, and share them.  An image meme is a photo or illustration, typically square, on which the creator can add text to the top and bottom. The most common kinds are photos of people (either an anonymous individual or a celebrity/character), or a cutout of a person, animal or cartoon character on a multicolored background. The added text is typically in line with some attributed personality of the meme type: For example, the “slowpoke” meme tends to include text humorously out-of-touch with current events (“Hey guys … Did you hear they killed bin Laden?”). The image memes seen on these are only a single type of meme, yet informal observation suggests users tend to describe these simply as “memes.” Some knowledge of these characters is thus needed to “properly” use a meme. When a collection of users – in this case, presumably students and alumni – converge on such a site, however, they bring different levels of familiarity with the subject. As a result, other users regularly critique use of memes that they consider incorrect or uninformed. This kind of policing, of what an image means and what it should (and should not) be used to say, is the subject of this research. Broadly, I will examine how users express their approval and disapproval of the memes posted to several university-themed meme pages. The image memes seen on these are only a single type of meme, yet informal observation suggests users tend to describe these simply as “memes.” I focus on university pages because they are built around a group that is defined by geographic location and multiple shared interests and experiences. I will use text analysis to develop categories for these responses and will use content analysis to describe how they are applied. The results will help to understand the phenomenon of visual memes, but will also help to explain how a culture polices how its shared images may be used.
NOON – 01:00 PM • Lunch

01:30 PM – 02:50 PM • Reading Pop Culture

Chair: Bradford Mudge, University of Colorado-Denver

  • Pop propaganda: The art and audience of Wang Guangyi – Betsy Bruner, University of Utah
    Contemporary Chinese artist, Wang Guangyi has been often referred to as the Andy Warhol of China because his art references the relatively recent trend in China towards commodity. While consumption and its concomitant “ethic of expansionism” is and has been the dominant ideology in the West for over two centuries (Smith, 1998, p. 49), the shift to consumerism in China is a rather new ideology. For many years in China, frugality was promoted while consumption was discouraged.  With the importation of Western ideas regarding capitalism came the notion that “consumption is the route to happiness” (Hong, 1997, p. 1). As a result, younger generations of Chinese people have embraced consumerism in ways their elders could never have imagined. Westerners have welcomed this shift in Chinese values, as it functions to increase the size and scale of the global market and is viewed as a step away from communist principles. In the eyes of Westerners, “free market” and “communist government” are more often than not irreconcilable, and the general expectation is that the Chinese move towards a free market will lead to the decline of communism. This prediction is not surprising considering the Western distaste for communism. Because Western nations promote a deep-seated belief that democracy must be instituted in order for modernization, freedom, and growth to occur, China’s adherence to a communist framework is considered to be “wrong” and is often demonized (Ono & Jiao, 2008). Sinophobia (the fear or dislike of China) has been shown to be evident in Western news media portrayals of China (Chang & Lee, 1992; Dorogi, 2001; Kobland, Du, & Kwon, 1992; Chin-Chuan, Hongtao, & Lee, 2011; Ono & Jiao, 2008; Ye & Pasadeos, 2011). News media, in general, play an important role in the construction of perceptions of foreign countries “in the sense that events are framed within ideological, political and cultural contexts to produce representation[s] of images from which individuals picture the world in their heads and construct their conception of “‘us’ and “‘them'” (Zengjun, 2004, p. 53). In this case, the Western “us” is placed in opposition to the Chinese “them.” In this paper, I argue that although Wang Guangyi’s Pop Propaganda art leverages a critique of capitalism, his art appeals to the West because it critiques and questions the validity of communism alongside capitalism. Wang’s Political Pop paintings combine Chinese propaganda imagery from the Cultural Revolution with Western advertising. His audience is largely Western (as are his investors) and he is represented by some of the most prestigious Western galleries including London’s Saatchi gallery. The Western investment in the type of discourse found in Wang’s art elucidates the Western desire to see capitalism overthrow communism. By examining both Wang’s art and its audience, I will illustrate how the commodification of his art serves as a means by which Westerners can invest financially in a vision of China that aligns with what Smith (1998) calls the hegemony of productivism found in the United States.


  • Trauma through an animated lens: “Waltz with Bashir” and “Crulic: The path to beyond” – Debra Pentecost, Vancouver Island University


  • Investigating hybridity in Armenian music videos – Michael O’Donnell, University of St. Thomas (MN)
    The video opens with a street shot of a bungalow in East Los Angeles, California. The house is pale green, flanked by palmetto plants. A maroon sedan pulls up and sounds its horn. The video cuts to a Hispanic man on the stoop who is having his hair braided into cornrows. The horn sounds again. Now the video cuts to a young African-American man sleeping on a couch. He awakes. Back on the street, we see him come out of the house and get in the car, a 1964 Chevrolet with the driver’s side front wheel raised high off the pavement. Music begins, and as the car bounces down the street, voices begin rapping—in Armenian. The video intercuts between the urban landscape and musicians playing Armenian dance music on traditional and modern instruments, between tattooed young men of the East Los Angeles variety and club goers in Yerevan, Armenia. The video, “Patrondash,” resides at the intersection where Armenian and American cultures collide, where popular culture clashes with ethnic tradition. Marwan Kraidy applies the term “hybridity” to this phenomena. Kraidy writes: “Hybridity involves the fusion of two hitherto relatively distinct forms, styles, or identities. “… [It requires] cross-cultural contact, which often occurs across national borders as well as across cultural boundaries. “… contact typically involves movement of some sort, and in international communication contact entails the movement of cultural commodities such as media programs, or the movement of people through migration.” In 2009, I traveled to Armenia to investigate hybridity in Armenian popular music. In five focus groups with Armenian teenagers, we discussed what was meant by “Armenian music.” We showed the teens “Patrondash” and another music video, “Uzum em vor” (I want that), that mixed themes and images from rap music with an Armenian pop music style known as “rabiz.” In this presentation, we will discuss the results of this investigation and probe the concept of hybridity as it applies to visual entertainment.


  • Rei Toei lives!: Hatsune Miku and the design of the virtual pop star – Thomas Connor, University of Illinois-Chicago
    William Gibson, in his 1995 novel Idoru, introduced a character named Rei Toei — an “embodied agent,” an artificial intelligence simulating a female pop singer who exists digitally and performs virtually. As with many of Gibson’s speculative concepts, this one has begun coming to life in the form of Hatsune Miku, a blue-haired, teenage female pop star in Japan. She’s had a No. 1 record, and she’s performed sold-out concerts for large audiences (some as large as 25,000 people) around the world. The catch, of course, is that Hatsune Miku isn’t human. She’s a computer-projected avatar, a fully digital personality created by a software company, which markets her as “an android diva in the near-future world where songs are lost.” Her voice is processed by a Vocaloid, a concatenative “speech synthesis engine” sampled from a popular actress. In concert, she is projected along the front of the stage as she sings and dances to accompaniment by live musicians. Music critics can describe human performers as “robotic,” “machine-like” and “inhuman,” but what happens when virtual-reality projections are presented not just as entertainment but as entertainers? Much of the previous research into virtual reality, even that scant portion of it related to communication, has dealt with the experience as a technologically immersive one — with users either wearing gear in order to “enter” a virtual environment or actually stepping into a constructed space in which the environment is projected around them. Hatsune and other virtual performers like her, however, bring the virtual into the real. It’s an intrusion that challenges numerous existing visual communication theories. Just as the advent of radio and television caused scholars to update, for instance, narrative theory that was previously based on the novel, projected virtual reality entertainment (be it singers or actors, dancers, performance artists of any kind) offers reappraisals of narrative techniques, perception and reception theories, visual rhetoric, aesthetics and social cognition, as well as an inversion of many presence typologies (particularly telepresence). This lightning session focuses my initial, generative research into these reappraisals. We’ll look at brief video clips and slides of both Hatsune’s performances and human performers to compare and contrast the visual representations and unique abilities of both. (Hatsune, for instance, has opened previous concerts appearing with fairy wings and floating, Tinkerbell-style, in mid-air; she can also change costumes in the blink of an eye. However, programmers seem cognizant of keeping her out of the “uncanny valley” of resistance to overly lifelike animation.) We’ll quickly consider the specific decisions programmers are making about how to represent virtual performers in a context that’s not only believable but visually communicative with the same success as a human performer. 

02:50 PM – 03:00 PM • Break

03:00 PM – 04:00 PM • Visual Communication in the Digital Age

Chair: Kathryn Edwards, Weber State University

  • Visual communication from a digital perspective – Susan Barnes, Rochester Institute of Technology
    Technological changes have radically altered the ways in which people use visual images.  Since the invention of photography, imagery has increasingly been used for entertainment, journalism, information, medical diagnostics, instruction and communication. These functions move the image beyond aesthetic issues associated with art and into the realm of communication studies. Tracing the work of Langer, Goodman, Gardner, and Bruner, this presentation will describe the relationship between these scholars and the development of visual technologies.  It will discuss the pioneering computer work of Alan Kay and how his ideas about the visual, impact today’s visual environment.  These theories can be used as a foundation to understand the theoretical development and impact of digital technologies in our visually-oriented world. 


  • An analysis of the digital communication courses – Quingjiang Yao, Scott Robson, Alicia Coverdale, Ishaan Mishra, Kelsie Sorenson, Ashley Wiles, Fort Hays State University


  • Shadows at the speed of light: toward a rhetoric of the contemporary portrait – Bradford Mudge, University of Colorado-Denver
    Untangling the causes of our recent recession has led to an awareness of what economists have called the “shadow economy.”  “Shadow economy,” “shadow banking,” “shadow markets” are all terms that arose to describe the unregulated financial investments that brought down a segment of the real estate market, and with it a significant portion of the banking sector.  “Shadow” is the perfect term because these investments were carefully kept off the books by the large financial houses, like Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns, and yet they were real enough to inflict massive damage when they went belly up.    No matter how fanciful these derivatives, in other words, no matter how invisible to financial regulators, there was a very real feedback loop in place. When the shadow markets collapsed, corporate debt was dragged kicking and screaming into the light. This essay begins with “shadow markets” because it will read the history of portraiture from Reynolds to Zuckerberg in terms of the changing financial markets within which those portraits and that history were produced.  Specifically, the essay will compare and contrast the rhetoric of portraiture at play in late eighteenth-century London to that of the contemporary moment so as to understand better the dramatic changes proffered by platforms like Facebook.  The late eighteenth century witnessed competition from three different kinds of portraits: those in stone, those in oils, and those in print.  The first of these, funerary statues and civic memorials, anchored urban space; the second, oil portraits of various kinds, dominated both the houses of aristocrats and the state-sponsored exhibitions of the new Royal Academy; the third, cheap prints, used caricature for purposes of political satire.  The oldest of these, statuary, deploys the rhetoric of weight and immobility; the newest, cheap political caricature, did the opposite.  If the former embraces the monumentality of gold, the latter embraces the ubiquity of paper. Facebook offers the endlessly augmented self-portrait.  Its platform encourages a multifaceted super-self composed of limitless photographs, likes and dislikes, postings and commentaries.  Like the new global market, which buys and sells continuously, with all transactions at the speed of light, Facebook seems to offer the dream of self-actualization in its purest form: a portrait capable of infinite adaptation and inclusion, almost a living thing. And yet Facebook is not without its shadow self. Recent controversies highlight another purpose of the platform: to record and sell information about its users.  Like many other companies, and Target comes immediately to mind, Facebook has found a way to profit from the data passing through its servers.  As its users delight in the ease with which the ineffable qualities of selfhood can be made manifest, Facebook is busy producing another kind of portrait, specifically for the use of advertisers, who are looking for faster and easier ways into the hearts and of customers. 

04:00 PM – 5:00 PM • Teaching Iconicity 

Chair: Sandra Moriarty, University of Colorado-Boulder

  • Talking (and teaching) “iconicity” – Roxanne O’Connell, Roger Williams University; Bob Britten, West Virginia University; Trischa Goodnow, Oregon State University.
    Some years ago, Sandy Moriarty and Dennis Dunleavy began a study of iconicity and the 100 most iconic photographs of the 20th century (US focused). For three years running, VisCom participants made up the panel for a Delphi study that looked at iconicity in reference to these 100 images, each iteration attempting to whittle the list down to the top 10 or 20. As teachers in the 21st century, the panelists are using this same list to talk about and generate a deeper understanding of what makes an image iconic — what sears it on the collective memory of a people. We are finding that some of these 20th century photographs are still iconic to 21st century viewers, but not necessarily for the same reasons they were for us. This panel revisits the original study and the way we are now using it to generate discussion and, perhaps, build a list for the next generation. 

06:00 PM – Bar opens and runs through dinner hour

07:00 PM – 08:15 PM • Dinner

08:30 PM – 10:00 PM • Night Viewing

Chair: Roxanne O’Connell, Roger Williams University

  • Barrio Station: Oasis and smiles – Louis Rumpf, National University
    Growing up in a barrio is hard to do. Just south of downtown San Diego, nestled between the shipyards on the bay and Interstate 5 on the east, with the Coronado Bay Bridge rising over it, lies Barrio Logan. The subdivision and sale of the land that later became known as Barrio Logan began in 1867 (Norris, 1983). Over the decades, Barrio Logan has been the landing place for many Mexican immigrants entering the US. The community has shrunk drastically in size and population since the late 1930s, as the bay front land was taken and used for shipyards, downtown San Diego developed southward, and Interstate 5 cut the original community in half. Barrio Logan became famous as a center of Chicano activism during the legendary April 22, 1970 takeover of misappropriated California state land that led to the building of Chicano Park under the Coronado Bay Bridge and Interstate 5 (“The Takeover,” n.d.).  More infamously, gangs in Barrio Logan have been linked to the Arellano Felix Drug Cartel for the past 15 years (Isackson, 2008). Today, Barrio Logan is a small, eclectic community of single-family residences, many historic; apartments; small business; and heavy industry. A youth growing up in Barrio Logan could either work hard and find a great career or end up in a pool of blood on a Tijuana street. In the stark environment of Barrio Logan lies an oasis for its youth: the Barrio Station. “The Barrio Station’s basic mission [is] to discourage delinquency, youth violence and gang involvement, and encourage civic responsibility and successful school performance among the youth” (“Saving,” 2011, para. 4). The nonprofit organization offers recreational activities, a computer lab, boxing program, and youth counseling and delinquency diversion programs. I will present a creative work that is a 30 second Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the Barrio Station youth programs. The PSA is presently being broadcast on San Diego Channel 10.15, TV Azteca, and may also be broadcast on Channel 10.1, the local ABC affiliate, in the near future. Before presenting the 30 second PSA, I will also show a short, rough, 5:30 video of the Barrio Logan community: homes, businesses, and the historic painted murals on the Coronado Bay Bridge supports in Chicano Park. After screening the videos, I will use the remaining time to discuss the impact of the PSA and the Barrio Station on the community. The Barrio Station PSA video can be viewed in YouTube format in both English and Spanish at the bottom of the Barrio Station Web site at the following URL: 


  • Overtown: Inside/Out – Charles “Stretch” Ledford, University of Illinois
    Overtown is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Miami, Florida, a city with one of the highest poverty rates in the United States. Known as the African-American enclave “Colored Town” when Miami was founded in 1896, the area had begun to be referred to as “Overtown” by the middle of the twentieth century and at that time was the thriving heart of Miami’s black culture.  Though during the mid-1900’s the neighborhood was known as “the Harlem of the South,” by the last decades of the 20th century Overtown had become a center of urban decay, poverty, and crime. “Overtown: Inside/Out” is a multimedia project that demonstrates a completely novel method of community engagement in digitally marginalized areas like Overtown.  The project was built upon a series of short videos that I began creating in Overtown in late-2009.  My goal for these videos was to create a journalistically sound view of Overtown that was not defined by the news cycle, but rather by the rhythm of life of Overtown’s residents. Because I wanted the residents of Overtown to have a first-person voice in the series I was creating, in early 2011 I constructed four mobile, interactive multimedia touch-screen kiosks through which residents of Overtown could view the videos and provide their own video commentary. These kiosks were active at a coin laundry, a barbershop, a barbecue restaurant and a corner store in Overtown during the first half of 2011. The kiosks have no keyboard or mouse; all user-input is through the touch-sensitive screens and viewers are told that the kiosk’s camera will record them as they watch the videos.  As a cue for responses, each video begins with hip-hop artist Desloc Piccalo, an Overtown native, explaining that at the end of the video he will ask the viewer three questions, which are as follows:
    • “How does seeing this film make you feel about Overtown?”
    • “Should this film be shown outside of Overtown?  How would that make you feel?”
    • “What should be the next subject we film for ‘Overtown: Inside/Out’?”
    The results of the project, as well as further details about the concept and its implementation, are available at, which displays both the original videos I shot in Overtown and some of the responses left on the kiosks by Overtown residents. I hope that the web site will continue to provide an “Inside” view of Overtown not only for Overtown residents, but also for the political, journalistic, judicial and academic establishments “Outside” of Overtown.  It is there, where political power intersects with social, cultural, economic and racial prejudices, that decisions are made every day that continue to marginalize the people of Overtown. 


  • Long lenses in landscape photography – Conrad Smith, University of Wyoming
    A 10-minute exhibition of, and discussion about, film and digital landscape photos taken with lenses that magnify eight times or more (35mm equivalent of 400mm and above). The foreshortening effects of long lenses fascinate me.  Wyoming provides the kind of sparsely-featured terrain that lends itself to this photographic approach. The images represent six years of trial and error (lots of error!) experimentation that (finally!) yields consistently good photographic results and a degree of aesthetic success with magnifications 100-fold (35mm full frame equivalent of 5,000 mm) and more. Reaching this proficiency level entailed a considerable learning curve about heat-related atmospheric distortion and the difficulty in creating solid support systems for 800mm and 1200mm lenses, particularly with teleconverters that double those focal lengths. 


  • Visual watching online: Approaching news video selection from behind the scenes – Astrid Gynnild, University of California-Berkeley 

2012-06-22 • Friday

07:30 AM – 09:00 AM • Breakfast

09:10 AM – 10:30 AM • Visual Dissent and Unrest

Chair: Michael E. Holmes, Ball State University

  • “Undesirable”: The photography of Winthrop Davis – Anthony Arrigo, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
    Hoover Dam, an icon of the West and a symbol of American engineering might, was extensively catalogued by the Bureau of Reclamation both to aide the building of the dam itself, and for promotional and public relations purposes.  In thousands of dramatic images, photographers such as Cliff Sergerbloom, Louis Oakes, and Ben Glaha, established the dam as America’s crowning engineering achievement of the early 20th century.  Many of theses images reflected a prevailing machine aesthetic of modernism that valued photographic clarity, geometric composition, machine forms, and clear detail.  So prevalent was the mechanistic ethos of the time that photographer Paul Strand declared in 1922 a new technological holy Trinity: “God the Machine, Materialistic Empiricism the Son, and Science the Holy Ghost.” However, one photographer of the Hoover (Boulder) Dam Project, Winthrop Davis, was more interested in people than engineering or machines.  Davis, whose photographs appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, International News Service, and Pathe, and who also provided construction images to the Bureau of Reclamation and the Six Companies Inc., made considerable efforts to photograph and publicize squatter camps, labor strikes, and other less-than-flattering subjects.  In fact, his photographs were so at odds with the sanitary public relations campaigns of the Bureau of Reclamation that at one point he was nearly thrown out of Las Vegas as an “undesirable.” By analyzing and contextualizing Davis’ images and responses to those images by the Bureau of Reclamation and others, we can examine not just this valuable body of work, but also several important questions of visual rhetoric and visual culture.  Did the Bureau of Reclamation believe these images were more poignant than words?  The plights of laborers, families, and workers in the Red Light district of Las Vegas were certainly written about in newspaper and magazine articles, but what was it about Davis’ images that made him such a pariah?  By examining the images and reactions to those images, we can also approach the question of whether photographs provided more trustworthy evidence of the plight of families and laborers than verbal descriptions.  Why, for example, were there many newspaper articles covering the labor strikes at the dam, but almost no published images?  We can also use Davis’ photographs to ask questions about the role of the visual spectacle and notions of competing ideologies in machine aesthetic vs. documentary photography of the dam project. Winthrop Davis produced many excellent images of Hoover Dam’s construction and early Boulder City, Nevada, but his passion lay with the people he found caught up in the Boulder Canyon Project.  Davis recognized the cultural history unfolding around him and was determined to chronicle it with his camera.  Invaluable images we ordinarily would have never seen are part of the important body of work Davis left behind. 


  • Localized dissent: Place-based visual critique – Aaron Phillips, University of Utah
    On November 18, 2011, the environmental activist group Peaceful Uprising staged a protest coinciding with the grand opening of the Natural History Museum of Utah at Rio Tinto center, a dramatic new building cut into the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, the naming rights of which were purchased by a multinational mining conglomerate. The museum’s relocation on a heretofore-undeveloped stretch of land in a delicate foothill ecosystem was not the target of the group’s ire. Rather, the protesters were vocalizing and visualizing their displeasure at the museum’s new name, which they saw as an attempt to “copperwash” the tainted image of Rio Tinto Company, the global mining company that owns Kennecott Utah Copper, longtime and notorious polluter of the mountain-ringed Salt Lake Valley. The protest was a visually charged and rhetorically jarring performance, complete with dust masks and a banner announcing the mine’s true impact on pollution in the Salt Lake Valley. This presentation will analyze a series of dramatic images of this protest. The semiotic depth of these images is striking, and a rhetorical analysis of their rich features will contribute to the critical discourse on visual argumentation and representation not just by examining the images’ depth, but also by looking at the ways in which this protest is anchored in place and locale. Much scholarly work on highly imagistic protest events focuses on the images’ portability and their ready dissemination via television and the Internet. To be sure, the way images are circulated across time and space via multiple media channels is an important part of the force of visually based protests. Yet our focus on dissemination may de-contextualize images as much as the dissemination itself. This presentation seeks to root the critique, just as the protest itself was rooted, in the local landscape in which the protest unfolded and into which the target of the protest has excavated an open-pit mine visible from space. This evocative, visual and argumentative protest, not meant for widespread dissemination but meant as a single, powerfully enunciated refutation, is charged with a local resonance. Rather than being broadcast across multiple media and thereby de-contextualized, this argument is an in situ refutation, an immediate utterance in response to a particular moment and situation: the museum’s grand opening. The deep texture of the carefully planned costuming and signage of the protesters is fit for the nonce rather than for endless re-iteration in a series of  de-contextualized screens. The kairos of the situation is such that only the kind of “immediate inscription” (1981, p. 186) Baudrillard witnessed on the streets of Paris in 1968, with its “reciprocal and antagonistic” force, will serve as a fitting refutation. The NHMU protest, and others like it, such as this gain their power precisely from their basis in place, not from their widespread dissemination.  


  • Image and incivility in America: What visceral argument and visual reasoning contribute to visual rhetoric – Heather Crandall, Gonzaga University
    The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was a radical group of activists who formed in response to economic injustice and police brutality in African American neighborhoods in America in the 1960s and 1970s. One of their actions was Armed Citizen Patrol wherein young black men appropriating military symbols, dressed in leather jackets, beret’s, sunglasses, and carrying guns patrolled the police in order to protect citizens from police brutality. When the law allowing them to carry guns in public was in danger of being banned, Panther leaders traveled to Sacramento and staged a protest known as the State Capitol March. The protest garnered broad media attention and became a catalyst for changes in law, in police hiring practices, in recruiting members to the BPP, and perhaps most serious, in signaling threat. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover perceived the BPP as “the greatest single threat to the nation’s internal security” and charged his counterintelligence program COINTELPRO with rendering harmless black-power groups. “Of COINTELPRO’s 295 operations, 233 were directed against the Black Panthers”(Monaghan, 2007, np). This reading of this event’s photographs incorporate visceral argument and visceral reasoning to account for their rhetorical power. In this situation, we had young black men with guns in the streets heading for space sanctioned for civil governing. They walk through the doors and are immediately deposited back into public space where they read sections of the Constitution out loud. Visceral reasoning in Warrenburg’s (2012) formulation includes visceral argument where DeLuca’s (1999) work is used to account for image events that revolve around bodies—”vulnerable bodies, dangerous bodies, taboo bodies”—for the crucial practice of public argumentation” (p. 10). It illustrates the need to account for body rhetoric because the medium that carries the argument are bodies at risk, not rationality (DeLuca, 1999, p. 11). Visceral reasoning in Warrenburg’s (2012) formulation includes McKerrows conceptualization of the regulatory dimension of spaces in Space and Time in the Postmodern Polity. The analysis contributes to the role of racialized bodies, space, and threat in body rhetoric. It culminates in a theoretical discussion of visceral reasoning and iconic images and the cultural work at the boundary(ies) of American identity. Also a discussion of the future of image and incivility is included given potential for collective unrest in America. 


  • Subcultural rhetoric of refusal: Punk metaphors of class war – Brett Delaney, University of Wyoming
    Although identity tensions, spurring from simultaneous in-group as well as out-group membership, appear to be obstacles for group solidarity, personal and group ideological tensions may produce the required environment for an individual to self-identify as punk.  Identity relies upon cognitive framing and group knowledge, and occurs within every society as a means to fix semiotic events that occur in our personal/social experiences. Visual scripts such as album covers have powerful narrative implications on communication participants, capable of becoming characterized by viewers deeply enough to effect  ones’ moral system. In particular, punks have constructed visual war metaphors, which have accompanied subcultural rebellion against onslaughts of “mainstream” cultural capitalism and symbolism. The narrative of “punks at ‘class’ war”  has placed semiotics at the battlefront of punk identity construction. Using metaphorical criticism, visual compositional analysis, and visual rhetoric, I examine how the self-expression of punk subcultures has manifested in the imagery of contemporary punk album covers from 2000-2010. 

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM • Break

10:45 AM – 11:45 AM • Graphic Design

Chair: Kenneth L. Smith, University of Wyoming

  • Using the structure of Chinese characters to create innovative grid for graphic design – Yuequi Zhang, Purdue University-Calunet
    The pictographic characteristics of Chinese characters seem like mini graphic design in two-dimensional space. The components followed a specific structure by simple strokes. Corresponding with this, many graphic designers agree that the grid system of graphic design is a powerful concept in organizing layouts, and also it represents the importance of visual abstractions in design communication. According to the characteristic of form, and the rule of Chinese character’s structure, especially characteristic of pictogram, ideograph, and logical aggregates, it can provide an innovative meaningful grid in the grid system of conceptual graphic design. In this presentation, I will prove why contemporary graphic design can benefit from the structure of Chinese characters and how the structure of a Chinese character based grid can be applied in graphic design.


  • Graphic design NOW: The deconstruction of deconstruction – Nikki Arnell, Arkansas State University
    Deconstruction was a common theme in 1990s design.  Today witnesses co-existing styles, which is expected per subcultural favoritism.  However, a specific strain involves a further deconstruction of the read into handmade elements, flaunting the messy personal style and using multi-layered collage in order to invite a viewer through the design’s message.  As my audience in academia is to those already aware of the visual culture, this aspect of the session will be reviewed briefly for basis to my further discussion. In case there is more information needed, I have thoroughly explored handmade styles within technology in a paper recently presented at the Sixth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices. The line of research explored in “Deconstruction of Deconstruction” is the next step from the style to WHY the style is growing in popularity with certain segments of the population. This style in the commercial world appeals to both Gen X and Y as the step after deconstruction.  Gen X created – and Gen Y lived through – the fractured, questioning tone of deconstruction.  This style also taught X and Y how disrupting the read will make those raised in media overload to actually read the work.  We are at the next step, so why did we get here? 


  • Poetic narratives in three-dimentional design – Ralph Ball, University of the Arts-London
    This paper reflects on a series of experimental studies involving the reconfiguration of recognizable and archetypical object typologies. These product types we call ‘mature typologies’, and define as objects, which generally have an agreed consensus on basic form and utility. The intention of the reconfigurations is to, rhetorically and poetically, explore and expand meaning and use. The research explores a specific (we term)’object introspective’ use of visual rhetoric to create renewed appreciation and a re-valuing of that which familiarity has made absent from mind: To reveal and articulate visually areas which are un-regarded, celebrating the archetypal rather than the individual: To find the extraordinary in the ordinary, re-seeing objects and functions as if for the first time: To embrace the poetics of the everyday envisioning fresh possibilities in commonalties and to start with the given looking for new ways of expressing this within the objects themselves. Many designed objects make use of ‘external’ narratives (written or visual) either to explain their use/operation or to market position and differentiate already familiar product types within particular user/consumer cultural contexts of use. Products are typically inserted into a ‘theatre of use’, which provides operational or cultural narrative. The studies here conversely make use of what we call ’embedded’ visual narrative or implicit theatre of use. The idea is to expand or reinforce meaning in products by ’embedding’ or revealing internal, latent narrative reference from within a product’s formal parameters and implicit cultural contexts. This introduces the concept of ‘poetics’ into design. Designs are materialized in ways, which go beyond their function or even their symbolism to playfully or critically reflect on a cultural meaning. The paper unpacks a range of visual design studies, which serve to directly demonstrate and visually articulate the propositions define above. Examples of the visual material include:Light and Shade Collection This series explores the standard formal relationship generic bulb and lampshade. A reconfiguring of this relationship transforms the geometrically abstract form of the lampshade, (a truncated cone) into a series of more concrete objects and meanings.Archaeology of the Invisible Collection This collection comprises of 9 unique chair constructs divided into three generic subgroup typologies, Plastic Shell Stacking Chair, Plastic Mono-bloc Garden Chair and Office Chair. This study is driven by experimental design practice using a method analogous to archaeology. Common and generic chair forms metaphorically lost from awareness because of their anonymous ubiquity are, in a kind of archaeological reverse play, deconstructed to partially ‘de-familiarise’ them. The resulting inventory of parts formed the basis of speculative reassembly and modification. Speculations are rigorously framed within the examined object’s specific nature and culture. This strategy generates new and yet ‘authentic’ chairs defined within a ‘product self-validated’ formal narrative.

    Chair Anatomy Collection is a series of stacking/linking constructs. 

    Chair Archive Collection is a group of encased preservations, ambiguously inter-playing container and content. In both of these studies ordinary, everyday chairs were rhetorically reconfigured to reflect on lost familiarity use and are presented as above.

    All of the above studies demonstrate methodologies to extend the product lexicon with visual rhetoric and poetic resonance; to enrich or question our relationship to utility, familiarity, obsolescence, sustainability and value.



2012-06-23 • Saturday

07:30 AM – 09:00 AM • Breakfast

09:15 AM – 10:15 AM • Human Bodies as Sites for Visual Representation


  • Not your average nudie mag: Complicating the image of the nude body – Erin Potts and Megan McFarlane, University of Utah
    For the past three years, ESPN the Magazine has produced annual special issues called “The Body Issue.”  While special issues of any magazine are common practice, ESPN sets itself apart from other sports enthusiast publications by stripping world famous athletes of their clothing and having them pose for the camera.  Most frequently, athletes appear completely nude—or arguably naked—in poses that show off and accentuate their, more often than not, peak physical forms.  While some athletes are featured in sports bras, bathing suits, and on the rare occasion, a pair of shorts, the majority of these athletes use their hair, athletic gear, arms, hands, feet, and legs to cover their “private” areas.  While Sports Illustrated displays women’s bodies in the skimpiest of skimpy swimsuits year to year, revealing world famous models in all their slender, idealized, and digitally-edited glory, ESPN remains focused on the body of the true athlete.  These strong, muscular, empowered, and elite physical bodies presented on display press the boundaries between pornography, art, idol worship, fetish, and popular press photography.  While the implications of such a move may seem minimal as the magazine has a specified audience, engaged in looking at these nude bodies for a variety of purposes, the shift in visual representation of athletes in this case is an intriguing move for such a popular mass media outlet. This paper explores the intricacies of visual rhetoric in this publication over the last three years, examining the numerous ways in which the body is presented for the viewer.  Issues of gender, health, performance, and sexuality are complicated through the spectacle of the nude, athletic form. The presentation will include a collection of images from the various issues of the magazine that represent different themes these images create and evaluate the rhetorical body through these selected themes.  ESPN’s “The Body Issue” complicates the nude image by simultaneously reinforcing Western body standards while presenting these strong, athletic, empowered bodies in a gendered and sexualized space of the “nudie-mag.”  


  • The body as art: visual communication through tattoo artistry in the twenty-first century – Tracy Owens Patton, University of Wyoming; and Julie Snyder-Yuly, Iowa State University
    We all know of or have seen at least one person with one or more noticeable tattoos.  In the United States, prior to the late 1990s,  these tattoos often indicated an association with a biker gang, the military, a White supremacist organization, a former inmate, or a “specific class” of a person. Tattooing is a world-wide phenomenon, with the earliest records of tattoos going back as far as 3300BC.  Historically, tattooing was often a form of identification. In ancient China, tattooing was used to mark criminals and bandits. In pre-Hispanic Philippines, tattooing indicated accomplishments or rank in the tribe. In early Japan, tattoos indicated a person’s status or occupation. Today, tattoos are no longer reserved or associated with specific individuals identification.  Today in the U.S., tattoos are trendy and mainstream. The art of tattoos and tattooing has become even more popular because of reality shows such as LA and Miami Ink, Ink Master and Ink. While tattoos may be popular now, as a culture, the U.S. could be witnessing a transformation in what is and what is not acceptable in terms of bodily expression. Just as the popularity of tattoos is increasing, so is the dermatological business of removing them.  While there are thousands of academic articles that identify the hazards and complications of tattooing, we are anxious to delve into the under researched area of the visual medium. Using visual images of tattoos coupled with interviews, we are interested in studying the visual medium of tattoos and what they communicate. We are interested in the narrative of why some people choose to be tattooed and how their story weaves together a larger visual narrative of what is and what is not acceptable in mainstream U.S. culture.  


  • Sequential vs. simultaneous lineup presentations: An eye-tracking comparison – Sheree Josephson, Weber State University


10:15 AM – 10:30 AM • Break

10:30 AM – 12:10 PM Session 2: Lightning Session

Chair: Sheree Josephson, Weber State University

  • How visual images influence crisis communications and public opinion – Marilyn Starrett, Metropolitan State College of Denver
    The competition for our attention is intense: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TV and newspapers, magazines and books—online and in print.  Storytelling is still the core of news, entertainment and campaigns. But how does one grab attention long enough for any audience or public to care about, and perhaps, believe the story? Advertisers have long studied this question and have a robust research foundation of advertisement analysis. Public relations does not. Unfortunately we know little about how visual images of an organization or campaign effects perceptions about trust and credibility. In light of our increasingly visual culture, it is important to explore the impact of the visuals that accompany PR campaigns, crisis coverage, and owned and earned communications. As a baseline for this research, I will examine the visual images that have accompanied the British Petroleum oil spill and the public’s perception of the company.  I will apply the general research by W. Timothy Coombs and Sherry J. Holladay: “Does What They See Affect How They React: Exploring the Effects of Victim and Neutral Photographs on Reactions to Crisis Events” to the BP crisis. For VisCom, I will compare the media images with the images BP has on their website and public relations pieces. I have not have conducted valid research about the public perception of BP’s credibility vis a vis its images, but I will develop research questions and directions for further research and studies. As organizations increasingly move to web-based information and social media, they should consider the effects of visuals on how various publics feel about the company. It is important to systematically investigate how visuals influence audience perceptions of the organization. This is a first step toward a more comprehensive analysis of visuals and public relations. 


  • Masculinity and toyification of heavy machinery – Patrik Haggqvist,  LuleÃ¥ University of Technology


  • Visual characteristics of billboard advertisements: A study of preferences – Jordan Smith, Weber State University


  • Androgyny and kawaii:  Defining JRPG through visual gender tropes – Douglas Schules, College of Business Rikkyo University


  • Q Method analysis of Web design – Philip Loubere, Middle Tennessee State University


  • Consumer perceptions of the New Age of 3-D cinema: A survey of movie audience satisfaction – Zachary Williams and Tamara Eppens, Weber State University 


  • Visual radio – Joseph Knevel, LuleÃ¥ University of Technology


  • Navigational formats in a digital age – Jane Petrillo, University of Vermont


  • Using video critiques in photojournalism class – Michael O’Donnell, University of St. Thomas (MN)
    Personal critiques are a necessity in creative classes such as photojournalism, but after becoming increasingly dissatisfied with how these sessions progress, I developed a method of using video critiques that can be posted online. The disadvantages of the face-to-face sessions include missed meetings that are difficult to reschedule and an inattentiveness that comes from “defensive thinking” while the instructor is pointing out shortcomings in a student’s work. The face-to-face meeting is a one-time opportunity; when it’s gone, the chance for learning goes with it. The meetings also must come during class or office hours, when time is most at a premium. Video critiques remove the personality factor, or at least allow a student to hear the critique again after running through their mental defense the first time around. The videos shift time; the instructor can record them at the kitchen table over the weekend, and the student can listen several times at his or her leisure. The videos do not preclude face-to-face meetings. Often, these meetings will be better because the student is motivated, and she and the instructor can concentrate on improvement. A survey of 12 students in my fall photojournalism class showed unanimous acceptance. All agreed that the video critiques helped them improve as a photojournalist, and only one said he preferred face-to-face meetings. 
12:00 – 01:30 PM • Lunch

01:30 PM – 02:10 PM • Visual Representation of Politicians in the Media

Chair: Jane Petrillo, University of Vermont

  • Framing the past and influencing the present: Perception and importance of international leaders in news magazines – Emma Bloomfield, University of Southern California
    Given the abundance of visuals in how people today absorb information, such as in online spaces, new technologies, and traditional news media, the persuasive and framing power that images hold should be considered of high importance to communication scholars. Examining the covers of news magazine as an exemplar of visual news information with application to other forms of visual news, this study will determine negative or positive bias towards international figures in both the domestic and the international versions of news magazines. In addition to evaluating the positive and negative perceptions of the images, the overall ratio of international to foreign leaders garnering the will be compared to the ratio on the “Person of the Year” TIME magazine covers. These two methods of analysis will create a picture of the relative importance and overall perception attributed by a visual-heavy American publication to international leaders. Although news magazines are not the premiere source of information that they once were and print news has declined overall, the salience of visuals as framing tools and the bias of American media may be applicable to all types of media that rely on or use visuals to enhance verbal information. This study will rely heavily on the visual representations of international leaders and how these images and manipulated and altered depending on the audience, domestic or international. These qualitative discussions of image manipulation will be supported with quantitative analyses of coding and frequency as an objective figure of importance and perception. The cover images themselves and the graphic representations of the data will create vibrant visual evidence for how important visuals are to the opinion-forming process of news absorption. 


  • From Eisenhower’s “I Like Ike” to “Hope” and “Change” for Obama: A look at political TV commercials over the last 50-plus years – Scott Campbell, National University
    The session will be used to present and discuss research findings done on the use of the media in the political process. The focus is on television ads by Democrat and Republican presidential candidates seeking office that aired in 1952 through 2008. The research includes a comparison of the different party messages based on theme, imagery, endorsement and tone for each election year. In addition, the time will be spent looking at how commercials by presidential candidates have changed over the past 50+ years.  The goal is to increase media literacy and critical thinking regarding the contrasting messages based on party affiliation and candidate style, and to understand how changes in social and political landscapes, as well as advances in technology, have impacted the creation and distribution of these mediated messages. 


02:10 PM – 02:30 PM • Break

02:30 PM – 03:30 PM • Symbols, Metaphors and Icons

Chair: Sandra Moriarty, University of Colorado-Boulder

  • Evolution’s icon and iconic evolution – Michael E. Holmes, Ball State University


  • The paradox of symbol co-optation: “Steal your face” literally – Trischa Goodnow and Natalie Dollar, Oregon State University
    Though Jerry  Garcia, lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, died in 1995, a thriving and growing community of fans known as Deadheads continues to attract followers, sub-groups, and wannabes.  Important to the group culture are its visual symbols and fundamental to this essay is one of the group’s primary images Steal Your Face.  This logo, central to the group identification of Deadheads, functions much like the symbols in social movements function. Because this symbol has been co-opted and adapted by groups both inside and outside of Deadhead culture, important issues of authority and authenticity arise.  This study uses Goodnow’s “Functions of Symbols in Social Campaigns” theory to examine a collection of Steal Your Face adaptations and how these adaptations seek to borrow authority by virtue of the original symbol’s association to the “master” group.  Because Deadheads disavow authority, such uses of the base symbol to authorize and authenticate non-affiliated groups and products create a paradox for in-group and out-group members alike.  On the one hand, non-Deadhead groups do not have legitimate claim to use the symbol.  On the other hand, the egalitarian nature of Deadhead culture assumes that ownership of cultural artifacts is fluid. This paradox leads consumers of Deadhead culture without reliable means of authentication.  The consequences of this mean the cultural margins are suspect so that in- and out-groups are not distinguished.  Unique to communitarian movements, this paradox introduces issues of authority and authenticity that may be antithetical to the group’s goals.  By examining how a symbol such as Steal Your Face can be co-opted by out-groups, we can increase our understanding of the evolving nature of symbols and their rhetorical power. 


  • A community reflects on loss: Visual metaphors in designs for a New York City AIDS memorial – Stuart Kaplan, Lewis & Clark College
    Over 100,000 New York City residents have died of AIDS since the first wave of the epidemic struck the city in the early 1980s.  The epicenter of the AIDS crisis was Greenwich Village, which was a vibrant residential and commercial hub for New York City’s gay community.  Despite the cultural significance of the disease there is no major AIDS memorial in the area, or in New York City, for that matter. An opportunity to address this need arose in 2010, when plans were announced to redevelop a part of Green Village where St. Vincent’s Hospital stands.  St Vincent’s, which is now closed, was the primary medical facility treating AIDS victims in the 1980s and ‘90s.  In order to get zoning approval to replace the hospital with residences, the developer is required to establish and maintain a small park near by.  Sensing the possibilities for using the park as the site for a major memorial, a coalition of AIDS activists, urban planners, and entertainment industry luminaries who have been advocates for gay rights staged a design competition for a memorial. Designing a memorial to commemorate AIDS victims is an extremely challenging task because the disease primarily affected a population that has been stigmatized for its lifestyle and held at least partially responsible for its misfortune by many people.  Because of these distinctive social and political factors, this memorial has to be different from more familiar ones that commemorate soldiers who have fallen in war (e.g., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial) or who have been innocent victims of criminal acts, like the attacks on the World Trade Center towers. Despite this challenging design context, the competition attracted 475 entries.  A winner was announced in January of this year.  The main question for this project is how visual metaphors are used to commemorate victims of a socially and politically charged epidemic.  Lakoff and Johnson’s concept of “containers” as a type of ontological metaphor is the theoretical foundation for the analysis.   My primary argument is that container metaphors serve significant symbolic and physical functions in memorials.  Such images serve symbolically as a stage for the presentation of narratives and artifacts related to the commemorative purpose of the memorial.  They also perform a physical purpose by creating a bounded space—a type of sanctuary—where visitors gather to reflect upon the  loss that is memorialized.  I will conclude with a comparative analysis of this memorial with a selection of other well known examples.  

03:30 PM – 03:45 PM • Break

04:00 PM – 4:40 PM • Design and Video Postcards

Chair: Susan B. Barnes, Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Mobile augmented reality from a design perspective – Daniel Cooper, Ball State University
    Augmented Reality is one of the hottest trends in mobile media, yet there is a substantial lack of user studies within this field of research. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the value of mobile augmented reality as a vehicle for information delivery on the basis of a usability and design analysis. Using a multi-dimensional qualitative method, this study examines the impressions of users and designers regarding mobile augmented reality, along with a heuristic evaluation of select mobile applications. This analysis finds that (1) users believe mobile augmented reality offers great promise as a medium for visual communication, and (2) it’s current execution is limited by technical restraints, design flaws and a lack of compelling content. It is concluded that mobile augmented reality will one day revolutionize how consumers engage geographical and time-based information. Yet, like all new technologies, mobile augmented reality needs time to mature in order to address these limitations. Finally, based on the findings of this study, this study offers suggested guidelines for future developments in this medium. 


  • Video postcards – Michael Scully, Roger Williams University
    This is a Pedagogical lesson on Digital Journalism. I like to start my students out with a project I call a “Video Postcard.” The method here is fairly simple: I ask them to shoot a group of JPEGs and then I have them drop them into Final Cut Pro to build a slide show. They open the piece with a brief video explanation of where they were when they shot the photos and then I have them lay some music underneath the presentation to smooth it out. The purpose of the lesson is simple: I want to show them the video production cycle. Because I want this to be THEIR work, I ask them to shoot JPEGs (to avoid all the compatibility problems that go along with the various video Codex protocols) and then I have them export and publish the work. About my Vis-Com presentation: I’ll simply explain my thinking and the pedagogy related to the production drill. Then I’ll show the group a three-minute video example of what I’m seeking. And then I’ll take questions. I suspect I can get it all done in 15 minutes. 


  • If there were a project manager in fairy tale times –  Carrie McCloud, Cory Cunningham and Donna Hernandez, Weber State University
06:00 PM: Bar opens and runs through dinner hour

2012-06-24 • Sunday

07:30 AM – 09:00 AM • Breakfast

09:00 AM – 10:30 AM

  • Town Hall Meeting



Professor of Communication - Visual Communication and Digital Media
Department of Communication & Graphic Design
Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI, U.S.
Research interests include web, usability, visual rhetoric, cultural aesthetics, material culture and other modalities and media that deal with the cultural impact of images and music.

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