Posts Tagged ‘Images’

Examining Posters

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

This 1987 poster reads “Less births, better births, to develop China vigorously.” The Chinese government became much more serious about the One Child Policy in the 1980s, and this poster was certainly part of that message. The government wanted people to believe that having fewer children would benefit the country as China moved towards modernization and prosperity. In other words, having fewer children was a patriotic duty.

The poster presents a family that the Chinese government presumably thought those who saw the poster would want to emulate. The parents are young, healthy-looking (or vigorous, as the caption suggests), dressed well (and western), and smiling. His hand on her back and the mother’s arms around her child lend them the aura of an affectionate family. And the father is carrying what looks like it could be a book, perhaps a symbol of education or business success. Both of the adults are depicted in motion, suggesting the forward moving trajectory of the country itself. The fact that the child is on her mother’s shoulder is important too because that indicates how the parents are investing themselves in her to help her reach higher. The toddler’s red shoes are the only red images on the poster aside from the text, but they are a subtle reminder that China itself will rise with this generation if parents act responsibly. The fact that child is a daughter could also mean that the government wanted parents to welcome girls as much as they would welcome sons and to give them the same opportunities to thrive that boys receive.

The background is a bit strange; the family looks as though they are going for a stroll through outer space. Space itself is futuristic I suppose, so it may be indicating the future and the bright tomorrow of China. And there is that little sun tucked away in the upper right hand corner. I almost missed it because it’s not red the way it often seems to be in Chinese artwork, but it is there and positioned in such a way that the little girl’s arms are almost reaching for it. This is a family ready to lead the way to a brighter future for China!

Cultural Revolution Posters

Monday, January 31st, 2011

“There are layers of trajectories of meaning that are common throughout the visual imagination of a society or group and that operate on the key level of assumption.”1

I thought the idea of “hegemonic discourse” that the authors introduce was rather interesting. During the Cultural Revolution posters were everywhere and dealt with a variety of topics, yet somehow amidst all of that visual stimulus a certain common meaning developed for different colors, symbols, or designs. But, as the authors point out with their example of the Red Guards’ behavior, common understandings can still provoke different reactions. Each individual viewer brings her or his own unique perspective to every poster seen on the street or in a home. As the posters were generally made to have a quick impact, viewers may only have had a few seconds to form an overall impression of what the poster meant or was asking. That leaves a lot of room for individual interpretation. My question is, how much did the Cultural Revolution posters play off of colors, motifs, or images already common in Chinese society? How much of the meaning behind these things existed before the revolution and how much grew out of it?

  1. Harriet Evans & Stephanie Donald, Picturing Power in the Cultural Revolution (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 17

Final Thoughts

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Would have had this written earlier, but I got distracted poking around everyone’s finished sites and musing over how impressive they are, especially when considering we all started only three months ago with vague project outlines and a bunch of technological tools we didn’t know how to use. The Alumni Images group hit the ground running with our project; our collective enthusiasm for what we were working on helped us bond as a group and kept us on track to meet all of our deadlines while our now novel-length Google.doc allowed for easy collaboration, serving as a space where each member of the group could contribute her or his ideas.

Our contract underwent several edits within the first few weeks of the semester as we worked to define exactly what our project would be, but the contract we settled on gave us a solid base for all of the work we’ve done since that point. We met all of our deadlines, most importantly the site launch date. We used Omeka, with only minor difficulties, to organize and lay out our site, and we used other technology that fit with the purpose and goals of our site, such as our Google Map and Guest Book, which allow alumni to interact with the site, and our slideshow that provides a general overview of the images.

As for our primary goals for our site, to collect information from alumni and to create a place for alumni to enjoy the images, I believe we met those to the best of our ability. We intended the, admittedly unwieldy, Omeka plug-in Contribute to allow visitors to submit their own images and information about the photos we already have, but so far only Dr. McClurken has done so (thanks!). But that is not to say that we haven’t learned a lot. Various people have left Facebook messages, emailed us, or contacted us in some way or another to share what they know. We’ve also had several offers of significant contributions, including newspaper articles from a scrapbook, a video of the 75th anniversary of the school, and photos from various alumni who worked for the Bullet or other school organizations. We’ve done our best to communicate with everyone who has contacted us and sincerely hope that they will be able to get their items onto the site. We’ve also done a good deal of our own research and learned a lot about the photos we chose from the archive as well as fun facts about our school. We didn’t quite reach our goal of uploading 200 images, but we do have a spreadsheet full of data to add to the archive’s records. As for whether we’ve created a site that alumni enjoy visiting, our Google Analytics records seem to indicate that we succeeded. We’ve had hundreds of hits, and visitors as of now spend an average of more than five minutes clicking through the images. I couldn’t be more thrilled that people are taking the time to view this site we’ve worked so hard on throughout the semester.

It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this project because our site has the potential to continue growing, something that each of us hopes will happen in one way or another. All in all, this class has been unlike any other I’ve taken at Mary Washington. I’ve learned the importance of having a sense of humor and experimentation when it comes to using technology (and map groups), of considering your audience, of teamwork based on individual talents, and the satisfaction of having something to show that we built from the URL up. Thanks to my group members and all of the other wonderful people who have helped make our site what it has become.

Countdown to Launch Date

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

So the images group got back from spring break with the terrifying realization that our site is going to up and running in less than a week! We each spent lots of time over our week off uploading photos into our chronological collections and transferring the data that the library currently has about each picture onto our site. It was quite the time consuming process, but that was one of the largest components of the project that we can now check off the list. We had a few issues initially with making sure that we were all being consistent in our methods of labeling things, but once we talked to Patrick and consulted with the instructions that Carolyn Parsons at the library had given us those issues worked themselves out. We’re still unsure as to how to add images to the special themed collections that we created, but hopefully we can resolve that soon. We have a huge incentive to have everything organized by Monday the 15th (Mark your calenders!) because our group got featured in the top position of the March alumni e-newsletter. Pretty schnazzy.

On Tuesday we met with the geography students charged with making our idea of a map into reality. They had some really good ideas and were able to make our thoughts more concrete in terms of what a map of campus expansion throughout the years would really look like. We provided them a link to a helpful UMW site that has the construction dates of all of the buildings on campus and told they’re going to work from those dates to create a color coded map of the UMW campus, beginning with the three original structures in one color and then working their way out through the different building and acquisition phases. I’m excited to see what they come up with. They’re also looking into MapLink and seeing what they might be able to create for us as far as a simple US map to track the location of the alumni contributing to the site. We know we’re going to be largely on our own for that one though, so we’re going to be doing some experimenting over the next few days.

We’re working on finalizing the things that we absolutely want in place before alumni start visiting the site, so I’ve been looking up things to include in a glossary of sorts to help people identify things that may have changed names over the years, primarily the different buildings on campus. It will both help alumni to search among the photos currently on the site and help us as current students to sort through photos that alumni may update with their own labels. I’m also working on a brief write up that will explain the site and how to contribute to it so that visiting alumni feel comfortable getting involved and interacting with our site. So much to do in so little time!

The Alumni Group Meets Real Live Alumni

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Saturday morning the four of us in the Alumni Images group sat in on a meeting of the Alumni Board meeting that was not nearly as boring as it sounds. When the time finally rolled around for our mini presentation we showed the members of the board our Omeka site where we had thrown up a handful of photos to demonstrate what our site will look like when launched. Our presentation basically mirrored the one we gave in class last week, though we left out some of the technical tools involved and focused more on the site itself. Everyone seemed pretty excited about the idea, and Caryn was awesome and made business cards with the URL and launch date of our site that she passed around as reminders to them all to help us out after we get our site up and running. The board members had a few helpful suggestions, such as that we should take into consideration the fact that many alumni have different names for places and buildings on campus (i.e. Arrington Hall was New Hall way back when), so we’ve decided to include a glossary of sorts in our site to help visitors find and identify the places they are looking for. It was great to present to such a receptive audience, and it definitely built our enthusiasm for the project even further. We’ve got people counting on us to make something of this site. And we got a free lunch and some stories about life at UMW in the ’90s out of the deal, so not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Since the meeting we’ve all been pretty swamped with midterms and whatnot, but we divided up our two hundred images by decade and assigned group members to each decade, so we now know which groups of images we’ll each be responsible for uploading to the site and researching for further information. We also picked the four categories we’ll have as special, thematic exhibits on the site so that not everything is simply divided by decade. We worked out a pretty solid plan for the map and are now just waiting for the input of the geography students as to what they can and cannot do with our ideas. We hope to have all of the images uploaded after break and then we can start researching and working on additional items like our guestbook and a slideshow for the front page. Counting the days until our site’s launch!

Snow and Selecting Images

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Despite the seemingly endless amounts of snow, my fellow Images group members and I accomplished a lot this weekend in that we sat down and picked out the final set of images we are going to be working with. All of the images are numbered, and so we divided the pictures among us and agreed to pick fifty each from our assigned group. It was a bit of a challenge searching for the pictures that I thought would be both the most interesting viewing and contained easily recognizable people or places. Our final choices are currently compiled in a Google Doc, and they represent a wide variety of dates and events from throughout the school’s history. Hopefully we can find alumni willing and able to help us to identify the people and places within them. My group also ironed out our contract and turned that Doc in for review. As it turns out we still have quite a bit of thinking to do before we have our project fully visualized, but we’re on the right path at least. Some things we need to consider: how often we want to pester alumni for information, whether our site is meant to stand alone or complement the current archive system, and how exactly we’re going to categorize and arrange the images within our site. Hopefully we’ll have some time in class tomorrow to discuss our ideas for these issues.

PS- Has anyone figured out this new Google Buzz thing?