The Feng Shui Way – Final Project

I have selected images of two different bedrooms and I will be analyzing them in terms of feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement. I selected these particular images because they each convey a message about feng shui and how its use can influence the way we feel, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. I have chosen to analyze the bedroom because in terms of feng shui, it is the most important room in the home. According to the author of a popular feng shui book, Kirsten M. Lagatree, “you spend fully one third of your life in the bedroom, whether sleeping, reading, making love, or just retreating into the kind of privacy that no other room can afford” (37). Feng shui, which translates as “wind and water”, is based on the belief that our surroundings affect us. It is very easy to see how our surroundings can affect us just by looking at these two contrasting images. But, it is not about owning nice things and living in a fancy house. Feng shui can be applied to any space, even a dorm room because it is not about what you own, it is about where and how you place it.

            The goal of fung shui is to enhance the flow of Chi, or spiritual energy, in the room by achieving balance between the forces of yin and yang. Chi is everywhere, but it can exist in forms that are either beneficial or harmful, depending on its flow and speed. The placement of objects in a room will determine how and where the Chi force will flow.  The first image depicts good feng shui for several reasons. The placement of the bed is the most important. The bed is against a solid wall meaning there are no windows or other structural openings above or directly next to the bed. This is important because the Chi force that flows through your body while you sleep will escape through the window leaving you with less than good sleep. It is also important because a solid wall holds symbolic support and protection that will make you feel safe and comfortable while in bed. There is a window on the adjacent wall but it does have a curtain that can be closed at night, making it acceptable. The bed has plenty of room on both sides of it, which allows the Chi to flow in and around the bed. It is also important to have the sides of the bed away from a wall because it allows for two people to get in and out of bed comfortably. This is important even if you are single because it welcomes love into your life. The bed should always be raised off of the floor like it is in this image because this allows Chi to flow freely beneath and around you while you sleep. The bed has a headboard and no footboard on it which is perfect feng shui because a headboard provides additional support and strength behind your head while footboards are seen as blocking forward progress in life (Lennon 206). The headboard in this image is particularly great because it has the two spires on either side. This upward motion will make you feel less weighed down and/or stressed so that you can sleep more peacefully.

            The images hanging on either side of the bed are restful and do not depict people. This is considered good feng shui because what hangs above you influences you each night and you don’t have any defense against things that influence you while you sleep (Lagatree 41). It is best to not hang anything directly over the bed as in this image. It is okay to hang images of people in a bedroom, but it should never be an image of just one person because this signifies solitude and it will not enhance your love life nor will it encourage you to obtain love. Love is a very important aspect of feng shui, especially in the bedroom. The image of this room represents and encourages love in its balance and symmetry. There are two pictures on the wall, two nightstands, two lamps, and more than one pillow on the bed. It is very important to create a space that is meant for two, even if you are single because it is believed that doing otherwise can actually hold your single status in place. Looking at this image, it appears to be designed for two people.

            The next important aspect of feng shui that can be seen in this image is the use of color and lighting. The soft natural color of the walls promotes restful nights because it is a yin color. It contrasts nicely with the monochromatic color scheme of the rest of the room because white is a yang color. The colors in this room are restful but they are not too cool. Blues and greens are restful colors but they tend to cool down romance as well. The choice of this warm color in combination with the ambient lighting coming from the lamps makes this room appear to be warm and cozy, which will invite a healing energy and create a tranquil vibe.

            The lines and angles that are created through the placement of furniture are also very important. Sharp edges and angles should never point toward the sleeper in the bed. “The energy coming off the two planes that create the corner is dangerously fast and sharp” (Lagatree 41). Pointing rays of energy can cause irritability and can even be harmful to your health. It is extremely difficult to accomplish this aspect of feng shui. There are very few negatively pointing rays of energy in this image. The corners of the paintings and the corner of the nightstand on the left are the only items that interfere with the positive flow of energy for the sleeper(s). This could have been prevented if the nightstand on the right were also used on the left and if the paintings were framed with circular frames.

Because we cannot determine what is in the areas outside the range of this image, it is difficult to determine how affective the use of feng shui really is in this bedroom. There could be a huge mirror directly across from the bed and the flow of spiritual energy would be completely disrupted. This is because “when the sleeper’s spirit rises at night it will get a nasty shock coming face to face with its own image, which can be very disturbing to the serenity of the sleeper” (Lagatree 40). One thing that contributes to the good feng shui of this image that we cannot see is suggested through the angle from which the photo was taken. It makes you feel as though you are standing at the entrance of the room because there are no doors visible in the image. If the entrance to the room is indeed located diagonally across from the bed, this would be considered good feng shui. This will allow for the best flow of energy and it is called the “commanding position” because it allows you to keep an eye on the room’s entrance leaving you with a sense of safety and protection while you rest (Henwood 27). The angle of this shot also leads me to believe that the foot of the bed is not directly across from the door, which would be considered very bad in terms of feng shui because it is considered to be the “death position” by Chinese. This is because the deceased are carried out feet first. Chinese practitioners believe that sleeping this way can drain your life force (Lennon 164). Overall, this image exudes many important feng shui principles and elements. Whether or not the actual room has good feng shui in its entirety is questionable. Regardless, it is clean and clutter free and that is the first and arguably the most important step to creating good feng shui.

The second image I have selected depicts what I would call “bad feng shui” or no feng shui at all. Clutter symbolizes unfinished business and impedes forward progress in life. This bedroom is a disaster. It is important to consider what memories and associations the objects in your bedroom hold for you and if they are negative or meaningless, get rid of them. Your bedroom should reflect your true spirit. The boxes, the dirty dishes, and the long list of items strewn all over the room block the flow of good Chi and lead to stagnation in life (Lagatree 36). An organized bedroom will give you a sense of control over your life, if nothing else. It is important to remember that if your bedroom inspires tranquil feelings and leads you to peacefulness and proper rest, you will reap the benefits in a multitude of ways. “Sex, wealth, health, and happiness of a marriage can all be enhanced by a bedroom with good feng shui” (Lagatree 37). The bedroom in this image does not inspire tranquil feelings. I would ague that the person who must sleep in this space has a hard time getting out of bed in the morning because they feel overwhelmed, stressed, and possibly even depressed. The first step to creating good feng shui in this room would be to clear the clutter. I believe that a positive emotional, mental, and physical difference would be noticed immediately after doing so.

After pointing out all of the elements that make the first image one that is of good feng shui, it is easy to see how the second image is lacking in terms of feng shui. Clutter aside, there is a long list of items in this room that are misplaced and are preventing and blocking the flow of Chi. The bed is pushed against the wall and is directly under a window. It also appears to be sitting directly on the floor so there is no room for Chi to flow under or around the bed. It does not have a headboard and it is pushed up against the metal heating unit. This is especially bad because metal is a yang element which means it is a conductor of energy and electricity. Water and metal elements should not be used in the bedroom, especially next to the head of the bed because they promote activity and prevent good sleep. The heating unit is an unavoidable feature of the room so the bed should be placed as far away from it as possible. All of the junk sitting on the windowsill is directly influencing the mental state of the sleeper because it is directly above their head while they sleep. These items contain “depressing energy” that literally pushes down on you while you sleep. The window does not even appear to have blinds or other coverings, which will cause the Chi force to be depleted during sleep.

The bedroom is meant to be a relaxing, comfortable retreat away from the worries of our busy lives. It is very difficult to achieve this when computers, televisions, exercise equipment, and piles of bills and homework surround us. There is a laptop computer along with piles of papers and books on the desk next to the bed in this image that are giving off and taking up a lot of energy. Again, electronics are considered to be yang elements and belong in more active areas of the home. The bedroom should consist of the yin elements, earth, wood, and fire, whenever possible. For many college students it is very difficult to maintain good feng shui in the bedroom because we usually live in very tight quarters and we live very active and stressful lives. If it is impossible to minimize the yang elements in the bedroom then they should be covered with a nice fabric or stored in the closet while we sleep.

Unlike the first image, this image represents solitude and chaos. There is no balance or symmetry, no color scheme, and no ambient lighting.  There are too many things going on for Chi to flow throughout the space. When Chi cannot flow gently and easily throughout a space because the placement of items are adversely affecting its movement, bad Chi, or Sha is created. “Sha can bring on poor health, family quarrels, business difficulties, bad luck – any number of problems and misfortunes” (Lagatree 6). This space is very uninviting to a second party and it does not hold the qualities that promote love, health, and prosperity. The camera angle and framing of this image do not help. The camera angle leads you to believe that the bed is in the “death position” because you are looking at the bed almost straight on. The framing cuts through the window and across the front of the bed making the space seem even more cramped. The image feels off balance, just as the person who occupies this room must also feel.

When you lie in bed, you’re doing more than resting, you are literally gaining the strength and the spiritual refreshment needed to go out into the world and carry on with the rest of your life. “According to Chinese thought, the soul leaves the body while we sleep to wander and restore itself in the astral plane, which most people in the Western world think of as dreaming” (Lagatree 38). In other words, your subconscious mind takes over while your conscious mind sleeps. The interplay between your conscious and subconscious mind is crucial to your ability to function well. A bedroom such as the one displayed in this image would hinder your ability to reap the maximum benefits from the experiences your subconscious mind is having while you sleep.

I have only touched the surface of feng shui in analyzing these images. The ancient Chinese discipline of feng shui can be very complex and it is unlike anything we consciously practice in terms of interior designing and decorating here in the United States. It has become quite popular across many cultures but not necessarily because all people have come to believe in its principles but because many people have come to realize that it simply makes for good design. The practice of feng shui ranges from very basic and simple to very complex. For some people it is a way of life, for others it is a simple application that makes their living and working spaces a little more comfortable, even if they are unsure why. Western cultures tend to perceive the principles of feng shui as more superstitious than religious because we see it as relying upon unjustified beliefs, or beliefs that are different from our own. We have been taught to believe that our fate is completely out of our hands; we cannot control or manipulate it. We become so ethnocentric when it comes to the way we choose to live our lives that it is often difficult to see how something such as feng shui can be beneficial.  It is important to learn how other cultures perceive things, even in the field of interior design and decoration because it opens our eyes to new ideas and possibly even life-changing experiences.

 

Bibliography

Henwood, B. (1999). Feng Shui: How to create harmony and balance in your living

            and working environment. Storey Books, Vermont.

 

Lagatree, K.M. (1996). Feng Shui: Arranging Your Home to Change Your Life – A

            Room-by-Room Guide to the Ancient Chinese Art of Placement. Villard

            Books, New York.

 

Lennon, R. (1997). Home Design from the Inside Out: Feng Shui, Color Therapy, and

            Self-Awareness. Penguin Books, New York. 

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CNN vs. Al Jazeera

The photo on the top is from CNN and the photo on the bottom is from Al Jazeera.

The story being covered is of multiple suicide bombings that took place in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul last week as well as the U.S. air strikes in Baghdad’s Sadr City. Interestingly, both photos show Iraqi children. CNN strategically chose to depict three Iraqi children looking over a bullet stricken wall in Sadr City. The article describes multiple suicide bomb attacks, and other acts of violence and death in the surrounding areas by Shiite militia members. I believe they chose this particular photograph because it shows how “unsafe” Sadr City is, especially for little children. CNN goes on to explain their efforts to secure the area and their desire to provide stability for the citizens of Baghdad. They go on to say that an Interior Ministry Official believes that the U.S. air strikes were the cause of eight deaths, including two children while the U.S. military counteracts by saying, “an unmanned aerial vehicle killed two ‘special groups criminals’ in Sadr City because it’s operators saw people putting weapons into a vehicle and attacked that vehicle with a Hellfire missile”. They create “the evil other” by saying, “Fighting in Sadr City, which has been going on for a month, has involved U.S. and Iraqi forces battling Shiite militia members”. In other words, they are there for a cause. -To give the children in this photo a better life.

Al Jazeera chose to use a photo that depicts a young boy looking through a large hole that has been blown out of a brick wall with the caption: US aircraft were reported to have bombed locations in Sadr City. This caption was no doubt meant to lead you to believe that a U.S. aircraft was the cause of destruction and that small children are within close proximity and therefor put into dangerous situations caused by US. Al Jazeera’s article is similar to CNN’s when discussing the suicide bombings and acts of violence but the death and wounded tolls do not match up.  CNN claims that the violence left at least 15 dead and 94 wounded while Al Jazeera claims at least 9 dead and 31 wounded. That is quite a difference! When Al Jazeera describes the Sadr City fighting between U.S. and Shiites, they do not necessarily take one side or the other, they just leave information out and then let you decide who is “the evil other”. For example, they write, “Iraqi security sources said that eight people, including a child and a woman, were killed and 27 others were wounded in clashes on Friday and Saturday between Mahdi Army militia and US forces in al-Sadr City in eastern Baghdad. They said that US airplanes had bombed positions in the district”. There is no better way to blame US bombings for innocent deaths than how they so indirectly did here. Neither article really “tells” you anything but, they both definitely do their best to lead you to believe something. CNN takes a much more straight forward approach in creating “the evil other” while Al Jazeera is more indirect and arguably more effective in their approach to persuade. It is still unknown whether the U.S. missile or bombings (which ever it really was) is/are responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians. Each took their own approach at telling their side of the story and the results are misleading and confusing. I would imagine this was their intention, at least to an extent. I have to say that CNN’s straight forward approach comes across as more believable and reliable. They told both sides of the story, including the fact that sources believe the U.S. is responsible for innocent deaths. So, while I find their article to be somewhat biased, I give them more credit than I do Al Jazeera.

For CNN’s article click here

For Al Jazeera’s article click here

 

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How we perceive the “evil other”

Personal Perspective:

Mr. Charles Montgomery Burns is the well known villain from the tv series, The Simpsons. He is a very rich and powerful man who’s sole desire is to increase his wealth at the expense of other, less meaningful people. This picture shows him in the midst of his trademark sinister cackle. If I had never seen The Simpsons, I believe that I would easily be able to point out Mr. Burns as the villain of the show based on his appearance alone. The attached shadows on his face and hands indicate that he is the “evil other” because they make him appear dark and evil. He was created to represent the dark side of corporate America. He is greedy and full of hatred but, I love how we find humor in his relentless, abusive behavior because it gives us the opportunity to laugh at someone else’s expense without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Historical Perspective:

Mr. Burns made his debut in 1989. Interestingly none of the characters on the show have aged over the past 19 years. Mr. Burns was created as a character that would only appear on the show occasionally to give Homer some grief but, his character has become one of the most popular over the years and now it is very rare for him not to appear in every episode. He was voted the 49th best villain of all time by Wizard Magazine in 2006. Historically speaking, Mr. Burns fits the bill for how we perceive the “evil other” because he is almost always presented with his head down, looking up with beady eyes and a furrowed brow line. If his head is not down then he is usually depicted with heavy shadows, much like he is in this picture. He always tents his fingers in a way that leads you to believe he is contriving evil thoughts and he almost always has an evil smirk on his face.

Technical Perspective:

In this particular picture the key light is coming from below giving Mr. Burns a sinister high contrast appearance. It is a close-up showing his trademark hand gesture and bad posture. His long pointy nose could be viewed as a graphic vector that leads your eyes to the direction in which he is looking.

Ethical, Cultural, & Critical Perspective:

The Simpsons is a show that is known for making fun of American issues. There is always a moral dilemma that is to be resolved ethically. Many people (including my parents who have always found The Simpsons to be ethically distasteful) feel that stereotyping and displaying bad behavior is not the best way to teach a lesson, especially in cartoon format. It is said to encourage children to behave similarly but, I disagree. Why not learn from other people’s mistakes before we make those mistakes ourselves? Culturally, Mr. Burns is an exaggerated version of how we perceive corporate America. Money hungry, take all, do whatever it takes to get to the top state of mind. Mr. Burns is a perfect example of how we perceive the “evil other” because he is relentless in his attempts to prevent anyone else from gaining success. A villain would not be seen as evil if he/she was not given the specific characteristics such as those found in this picture of Mr. Burns.  

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Arab Femininity

Personal Perspective:

At least these girls don’t have to worry about putting on sunscreen. Despite being covered from head to toe, on the beach no less, these girls appear to be completely comfortable and natural in this photo.

Historical Perspective:

Koranic law dictates that women wear the abaya whenever they are in public, even at the beach. As Americans, I think we assume that everyone would like to live like us so the general image of the Arab woman is that she isn’t happy. We tend to stereotype Arabic women as such because their culture is so different from our own. In a sense, I am jealous of these girls because when I am at the beach my culture has forced me to feel that I have to look as great as all of the models on the cover of Sports Illustrated. American girls sit on the beach wearing practically nothing, usually more worried about how they look than how much fun they are having. Arabic women have, no doubt, been oppressed but they have come a long way in recent years. Many women continue to dress this way because it is what makes them comfortable and it supports their religious convictions.

Technical Perspective:

This is a very natural photograph. It does not appear to be posed. I would imagine these girls did not know that their picture was being taken. I say this because I think that photography of Muslim women is generally considered offensive. For what appears to be a snapshot, it has a nice composition. It shows the men swimming and playing ball out in the ocean in the background while the girls sit, having a casual conversation.

Ethical, Cultural, & Critical Perspective:

However strange the beach attire of these girls may look to us, it is completely ethical and normal for them to be sitting on the beach this way. Covering themselves in this way is very feminine and I would argue, even powerful. Most women feel it is completely appropriate to flaunt everything they’ve got while these women treat their bodies as something that is sacred. I would imagine that this cultural perspective relieves many women of the emotional and psychological damage that other women suffer when they abuse and use their bodies to fulfill a part of their life that is missing. Arab women have been taught to respect their bodies and I would imagine that along with that comes a great deal of confidence and self-worth. Arabic women have no doubt been oppressed and because of that they are currently fighting for their rights. But, I don’t think that makes them any less proud of the roles they play in their culture. This photo exudes that power of modesty that is an important aspect of their culture. 

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What’s in a Scene?

Into the Wild

To view this film’s official website with footage for the analyzed scene click here.

Personal Perspective:

Part of what makes this movie so good is the director’s (Sean Penn) creative editing techniques. You cannot help but feel a strong connection with the main character (Christopher) because you are able to gain a strong sense of his emotional state, where he is coming from, and why he feels the need to be such a free, adventurous spirit. There is one scene in particular that really defines Christopher’s relationship with his parents (the root to all of his problems). It is about 15 minutes into the movie and it is when he meets his parents at a restaurant to celebrate his college graduation. My initial reaction to the scene is that his parents are uptight, religious, and conservative people who think they can fix any problem with money. Christopher comes across as the type who despises everything his parents are and have ever hoped to be. The tension between father and son is very obvious. These initial conceptions of characters are further defined throughout the film because Sean Penn uses elliptical editing by providing flashbacks and flashforwards so that you can more thoroughly understand why Christopher hates material things, hates his parents, and hates society in general.

Historical Perspective:

This movie is based on a true story. It takes place in the early 90’s and it is about a young college graduate who has had a troubled past. He grew up with parents who physically and verbally abused each other and tried to cover up their problems with material things. He has given up all hope on human kind and he wants nothing more than to be free of society as he knows it. He gives his life savings to charity and sets out all alone on an amazing adventure, into the wild. I vaguely remember hearing about this story when it happened in 1992 and even though I was a young teenager myself, I remember feeling more sympathy for his parents than for this presumably self-absorbed kid who disowned his family to take on the challenges of nature, unprepared for what he was exposing himself to. This movie gives a different perspective. It makes you question the way we live as a society. Instead of appreciating what life has to offer, we use and abuse each other to get ahead, to make more money, and to become something we were not intended to be. Instead of enjoying this planet, we are destroying it. With all of the talk about global warming and the new biological hypotheses being circulated today about the future of our planet and life as we know it, this film fits perfectly into a genre that many people can relate to.

Technical Perspective:

The scene in the restaurant begins with Chris’s parents impatiently waiting for him and his sister to arrive. There is a sound bridge of Chris reciting a passage from a book that relates to how his parents are not meant for one another. You hear his voice speak of the terrible things that come to people such as his parents as you watch an extreme close-up of their hands fidgeting with their silverware and glasses of water, panning from one parent to the other. It cuts away to a car pulling up in front of the restaurant and zooms into the people in the car, Chris and his sister. As Chris walks into the restaurant to meet his parents an  over-the-shoulder shot is used to continually focus on his father. This shows that he is the authority figure and he demands respect. Moments into their conversation a rowdy bunch of sports fans burst into the restaurant and again the camera stays focused on Chris’s father who shows complete distaste for the inappropriate behavior of the kids. This shows his uptightness, his intolerance for fun, and distaste for living freely. There is a quick establishing shot of the atmosphere: the loud partiers, the sense of urgency in the kitchen, and then a racking focus back onto the stiff, formal setting at Chris’s table. Throughout the rest of the scene there is a patterned use of transition between extreme close-up shots and reverse shots of the family members. The eyeline matches point out how the characters are reading each other. For example, there is a shot of Chris looking at his mother while his father is reprimanding him and then the next shot is a close-up of his mothers hand pushing the food around on her plate. In other words, he notices how his father’s behavior makes her feel uncomfortable. A shot of Chris looking at his father quickly changes into a close-up of his father’s tense hand with bulging veins. His sister never takes her eyes off of Chris, showing she is sympathetic to his feelings. The way in which these shots were edited together tell a lot about the types of relationships these people have with one another. The setting and lighting also influence the message trying to be conveyed. There is low contrast lighting that creates an atmosphere that is realistic. The bright sun is shinning through providing a light that is almost stark and uncomfortable, like his relationship with his family. The setting is a bit distracting but it shows that life goes on despite the conflicts occurring between these parents and their son.

Ethical, Cultural, & Critical Perspective:

Children rebelling against their parents ideals is nothing new but it might make some people feel uncomfortable to watch because maybe they are not proud of past behavior or family decisions made in their own life. It is not unethical to show this type of behavior because it is reality. In our culture, we are expected to treat our parents with respect. Or at least we were expected to treat our parents with respect. I say this because younger generations seem to be less inclined to do so than what I thought to be appropriate as a young teenager. The behavior of Chris, abandoning his family for a new life, is quite extreme but, the trauma he was forced to deal with his whole life was also extreme and unfair. Even though Chris was rebellious and ungrateful towards his family, it is still difficult to not feel sorry for him. This scene of the movie is very powerful because it displays the type of life many people find themselves “dealing with”. The sad thing is, is that most people don’t do anything about it, like Chris did. 

 

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My High School Zeitgeist

PERSONAL:

I was a sophomore in high school when Kurt Cobain died. It seemed like his death was all anyone was talking about for years. Young kids felt a strong connection with Kurt because he was so much more down to earth, average, and relatable than the rock stars we were used to seeing. Nirvana played a very influential role in my high school years because their music brought forth a dramatic transition from the very artificial glam-rock of the 80’s into a more down to earth, sensitive, and “grungy” image. When Nirvana became popular, kids started dressing differently and doing their hair differently (or not doing their hair at all for that matter), and all of a sudden it was cool to look like you just rolled out of bed. I don’t think I knew anyone who did not own a pair of Berkinstock sandals and ripped up jeans. All the guys grew their hair out long and wore flannel shirts.
When I first saw this picture all of these memories were brought back into my mind. I had this same picture taped on the cover of my 10th grade English book. There is so much pain in his eyes. Looking at it everyday before I opened my book made me appreciate the life that I had and it made me think of others who were not as fortunate. It encouraged me to be nice to others. When I look at this picture now I still see a person who is in a lot of emotional pain. I am drawn to his eyes over and over again.  While I find the mood of this picture to be very sad and depressing, I also feel a strong sense of encouragement to be a better person. Not because I feel like he is a bad person but because I feel like I would never want to be the cause of so much pain.
 
HISTORICAL:
 
Historically, there is no specific style that this picture imitates, at least not that I know of. You can assume it was taken sometime in the early 90’s, shortly before his death because his hair is long and obviously because he is still alive. Professional photographers know that extreme close-ups provoke a stronger emotional connection between the photographed and the viewer because they have seen this type of photography in the past and so, this shot was done this way to evoke such feelings. This photo was probably released after his death because it emulates the feeling of the time. His death really upset a lot of people because they felt like they knew him and because they idolized him. This extreme close-up reaffirms that relationship people felt like they had with him because he is looking directly at you, almost as if he is asking you for help or a shoulder to lean on.
 
TECHNICAL:
 
This picture definitely appears to be of professional quality rather than just a quick snap-shot mostly because of the lighting. The key light is coming in from the left with a low intensity fill light on the right. These light sources have created some contrast in his face. There is moderate fall off because most of the details on the right side of the image are not lost, just darker. It is hard to determine what the other light sources are (if any) because it is such an extreme close-up. The framing is also done in a professional manner. His neck and the whole bottom portion of his face are left in the photo while the top of his head is left out.
 
ETHICAL, CULTURAL, AND CRITICAL:
 
I do not see anything unethical about this picture. It is a pleasant image to look at. There are not any symbols or messages in this picture that are offensive. It appears that he was well aware that his picture was being taken so I don’t think it is unethical to display it. Culturally, this picture represents an artist who touched the lives of many young people. On the same note, it also represents someone who chose to take his own life. I remember parents being really worried about their children’s emotional state during this time because they believed that their Nirvana worshiping kids might find following in Kurt’s footsteps to be a good idea. A lot of the kids in my high school were encouraged to seek counseling after Cobain’s suicide. So to some, this photo might be a representation of suicide, self-pity, and restlessness. It worried adults to see their students and children so obsessed with a celebrity who could not come to grips with life. But, for most of the kids, we were able to become more emotionally in-tune with ourselves through him and not necessarily in a negative way. It taught us how to come together and help people who were struggling emotionally so that they would NOT follow in his footsteps. Critically thinking, I have always felt a strong connection to this photo. I spent a lot of time looking at it when I was in high school and I still have the same feelings when I look at it today. In fact, looking at it again has reaffirmed the message that I took from it as a teenager. Speaking of the death of Kurt Cobain has almost become cliche because it was such a big deal for so long that people are sick of hearing about it. Life is so different now, with school shootings happening all the time the sensitivity to other people’s emotional state hits a little closer to home.   

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That’s Questionable!

On page 112 Lester says, “You will find that any and all images have something to tell you because every picture created has some meaning to communicate”. In the same paragraph he says, “Meaningless pictures entertain a viewer only for a brief moment and do not have the capacity to educate”. I understand that he is trying to imply that pictures become meaningless if you don’t take the time to study them but, this comes across as very contradictory. If every picture created has some meaning to communicate then how can he say that they do not have the capacity to educate? If someone looks at a picture and interprets it in a way that it was not intended to interpreted by its creator, I would argue that it is still meaningful. So, I agree that every picture has some sort of meaning to communicate but, that does not mean that everyone who looks at it, regardless of how long they look and study it, will find meaning in it. What may be meaningful to one person may not mean anything to someone else. What I find to be most questionable in Lester’s statements is that meaningless pictures do not have the capacity to educate. If a picture initially comes across as meaningless then finding out what the meaning is would be very educational for that person, even more educational than it would be to someone who already knew what the meaning of it was. 

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