Visual rhetoric uses images and writing to mediate ideas, they are what tie thought to life or the abstract to the practical. Images can be a variety of things and a single image can serve as a picture, symbol, or sign or any combination of the three. For example, a picture/painting of people can also have symbolic value. Certain images, such as a person with goat's leg standing on two feet, represent something else (devil, evil, etc.) in certain cultures and are therefore a symbol or code available only to these viewers while remaining just a painting to others. "Abstractness is a means by which the picture interprets what it portrays," (139). The author's use of brandmark, logotype, and trademark in such a dense web made the reading more difficult and interpretation of what the author, Arnheim, considers a "brandmark" nearly impossible. However, the interpretation of how works of art and media are used symbolically, as well as how abstract design is used to show concrete ideas, whether it be triangular signs representing danger or satirical cartoons, was well described and insightful.
Barthes is a difficult read and in the works of his I've read before I've wondered if there's not a translational difficulty not being overcome in what he describes. That said, Barthes was really a leader in describing how image, as opposed to just language, effectively conveys culturally held meaning. The tomato as representing "Italianicity," is something that anyone who works with advertising or has been in media design classes has been told as well as countless other 'cultural definition' tips. Barthes really raised some thoughts with his statement "...we are still, and more than ever, a civilization of writing, writing and speech continuing to be the full terms of the informational structure," (155). Media has changed considerably in the twenty-seven years since Barthes' death, but I think he would believe that image is not being used as effectively as it could be. We do use image to spare reader boring verbal descriptions and there really are no "pure" images left to us.
bell hooks' work was about the abstract vs. the concrete in architecture. As with definition of culture, social standing, political standing and beliefs in writing, architecture also reflects such things in a person. hooks' desire to have a large house full of windows and staircases to read by showed her desire to escape the concrete of her life (which was being a member of a large family living in a small house) and have a "...place for the fulfillment of desire, a place with no sense of necessity" (395). The desire of African Americans to own spaces, to have their own homes, was representative of their acknowledging their right to freedom and the desire to make an impact on their surroundings. hooks' description of how money has been enforced by the media as equal to taste shows a form of repression. Another concrete detail of how money is seen as necessary to being happy even when it shouldn't be. hooks argues that with both writing and architecture, we must allow ourselves to overcome such boundaries and escape fixed locations and ideas.
Sorapure's article/display was about how we "must use an assessment strategy that focuses on the effectiveness with which modes such as image, text, and sound are brought together or, literally, composed" (2). The presentations she took from students used culturally symbolic images, text and sound to convey a message that relied on all its parts. Without one of the elements, such as the text, the meaning becomes lost or at least much more difficult to interpret. Sorapure's premise is that because we have been taught that being literate is so valuable, we are not open to the more everyday mediums and do not evaluate or implement them as we should. Her descriptions and critiques, particularly regarding imagery and the political in her students' presentations were good examples of how media or works must be analyzed as a whole so that we can grade them as we would interpret them as a reader or consumer.