Visual rhetoric, according to Marguerite Helmers, is "..the way that images persuade viewers to adopt certain attitudes or perform certain actions," (2). That said, there are different categories of visual rhetoric such as propoganda, which is used to affect our perception of other people or the world. Its caricaure serves as a "shorthand for national expression," (3). Advertising is another form and is linked to constructed messages in our society that eventually become its subtext. By this, I mean that it implements the idea people should be very thin, wear or not wear cosmetics or the color pink based on gender, etc. No one in the present age is free of such messages whether they watch television or not or enjoy tabloid magazines; it is seen as pervading almost all elements of our culture. Robert Scholes recommends a five-part evaluation of the reading of images which involves a focus on: emotional impact, examination of formal elements, identifying original audience, purpose of work, and reconsideration of emotional impact (9-10).
The two things that were the most important in the chapter for me was Helmers' statement that "What seems clever and inspiring to viewers at one point can seem dated, passe or even offensive at later points," (21). I've often wondered when writing if I'll state something that will offend my audience and whether people should attempt to prevent this in their work or simply accept that it will happen. Also, the use of image in a text is described as: 1.Showing things described in words by authors; offers a demonstration 2. Shows things mentioned, but not described. It extends the author's text. 3. Shows things neither described or mentioned by author in an attempt by illustrator to interpret author's text (23).
Chapter two includes a second method of interpreting visual rhetoric that seems to be more detailed, but still based in Scholes' method. The chapter includes some great material on evaluation of audience (as regarding a Harry Potter book) and descriptions of elements (color, shape, line,value, etc.) and principles of design (framing, perspective, balance, etc).
What stood out for me most in this chapter was the description of icons in contemporary society: 1. As a signature 2. To communicate when alphabetic and numeric systems fail 3. To converse with those who don't understand our language 4. To initiate a story 5. To project our image 6. To offer information that needs to be quickly understood (42).
Manifest content is" that which is immediately evident and which creators want us to see." Latent content is the biases of the creator, unconscious misgivings demonstrated by the creator, or a sort of contra-reading of the material given (45).