Visual Rhetoric—Static Image (A02)

A Recent Semester’s Static Visual

A couple of semesters back, my Comp II students examined and analyzed a static graphic before they “graduated” to critiquing their Moving Visuals.


Their reactions were various, eventually. For a while, they stumbled and couldn’t say much of anything at all. They tried these approaches:

  1. I personally believe that this morph was created because they wanted to show America that regardless of who we elect as president, were going to be disappointed in some way. Even though Bush did some great things during his presidency, we only remember the bad. The country had such high hopes for Obama, and now from what I hear in my home, he is not succeeding either. Will America ever be satisfied?
  2. My first reaction to the George Bush and Barack Obama face morph was merely on a surface level because I, admittedly, am not very politically invested. I do not frequently watch the news or read newspapers, which is why I believe I had a difficult time coming up with a deeper interpretation for this piece of art. At first, I simply thought it was fascinating how these two different presidents looked so much alike. Due to my lack of political knowledge, I struggled for a while to determine any other type of meaning this morph had. I honestly thought it to be just aesthetic artwork.
  3. The header graphic shows the transition between the two political leaders. It represents how their political views maybe different on some issues, while they may have similar view points. The last picture most likely symbolizes how society has been accepting to other ethnic groups to become president. The transitions between the colors background may represent how the government is becoming more powerful. After president Brush was president of the country he was going through an economic recession, and during the Obama presidency the economy eventually become stronger.

Support in the form of more questions

After a few days of reading early drafts, I posted a “Support” piece that contained two more images and some leading questions (in blue).

While you’re working out your reactions to the Bush-Obama Morph image, allow me to either clarify or muddy the water here, depending on your reaction to these new manipulations.




Of the two, which seems the more reasonable interpretation? Is it clearer now which message the creator intended? Or can the image be used equally well to convey both messages? What does this tell you about the power of images? What does it say about the power of language to frame how we experience what we see?

An Invitation to Chat

If you have questions about the power of art, words, or the combination of art and text to provoke thought and shape opinions, ask them in a Reply below. Just talking about an assignment is usually the best way to discover how to approach it.

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