I have been collecting photographs from several online magazines during these last two weeks, looking for controversial issues, mostly concerning the Syrian War, the Venezuelan uprising, French elections, North Korean-USA confrontation and Spanish political corruption.
For some of the chosen pictures I found possible to convey the meaning towards two opposite directions using a title that contextualize the picture under very different circumstances or positions, influencing the viewer’s reading. For each picture, I wrote on my notebook a couple of suitable titles and commentaries for each picture.
I noticed that for some pictures was difficult change the meaning with a title, mainly because the significance of the scene depicted was too explicit and left small room for interpretation, or at least I didn’t figure out any way to do it. For example, a picture of the Pope Francis kissing the barefoot of aa poor man in a ceremony on Maundy Thursday, shows a gesture of humiliation that under Christian is read as a sign of humility, resignation and servitude to others, which is a gesture that is imprinted on the message of Jesus of Nazareth and that Pope Francis is trying to put on the focus of the modern Church. But how could this picture be read in other way? Possibly, an atheist would read it as a non-productive gesture of a man that fights against the great corporation that the catholic church is, corrupted by numerous scandals.
Pope Francis: the vocation of the Church is to server
The loneliness of Pope Francis
Both titles suggest meaning in the same direction, but title number #2 strengthen the idea of the effort of the Pope to change the course of the modern church, fighting against the conservative sectors of the Roman curia.
I found easier to set a title for pictures of the Venezuelan uprising, where a half population is confronting the other half. From an European point of view, Maduro is seen as a dictatorship who attacks the democratic foundation of the state in order to perpetuate himself in the power. The Venezuelan opposition plays an active role, mobilizing wide sectors of the population that are sick and tired after years of inflation and the increase of impoverishment to which Nicolas Maduro has lead the country. Lastly, there is a sector of the Venezuelan population that support Maduro, mainly those who receive government subsides. No matter how much I tried to distance myself from the Venezuelan reality, in an attempt to be objective, my interpretation of the Venezuelan situation is conditioned by my European point of view.
In the picture that I chose a lot of people is behind a police line, allegedly watching what happens one the other side (although some people are distracting). They look like an uninformed mass, mere spectators of the movements of the government and the opposition. Are they on the verge of cliff? Is Venezuela on the brink of a civil war?
The Venezuelan people silent witness of the emergence of a new dictator
The dictatorship of Maduro lead the people to the edge of the abyss
A plausible reading of this picture could put the accent on how the government try to preserve popular classes to be involved in the conflict (with a police line?)
Government forces try to keep the population away from the opposition disturbs
The 2017 French presidential election, focused on the rivalry between the ultra-conservative and anti-European Marine Le Pen and the liberal and pro-European Emmanuel Macron have left some images that show how divide is the French population on this election. I chose a picture that strengths such rivalry, and that was similarly repeated by several journals during these last days:
Here the meaning can be manipulated or altered in several ways. Taking into account where the man on the first is seeing, we can guess that Le Pen is the favourite (in fact her presence in the picture is predominant) or that she is an attractive option for undecided voters:
Marine Le Pen: la femme fatal for Europe
Marine Le Pen attracts undecided voters
But what if we consider the higher position of Macron on the picture to draw the attention of the viewer to his advantage on the poll?
Macron consolidates his position on the election polls
Here are some of the pictures I’ve been collecting these days and the suggested titles.
NOTE: All the opinions and political comments contained on this article are ficticious for academic purposes.
No doubt a caption has a powerful influence of the reading of the picture, delimiting the reading of the it. For assignment four, I’m preparing a series of 14 abstract photographs that could mean anything or nothing at all to the viewer, but when the text is revealed the attitude of the viewer would be completely different, and he will actively look for meaning on the denoted image.