Foss and Visual Rhetoric

In his article, Foss begins by stating objections that rhetorical scholars had with adding visual images into the field of rhetoric. Some common issues were that rhetoric is meant to be a verbal exchange, it would call their work in theoretical distinction into question, and that it would taint their field. He goes on to explain that adding visual images to the field of rhetoric gives insight into human experiences that an analysis of verbal communication leaves behind. Foss also explains that the objects studied under visual rhetoric are very broad and include everything from art to furniture to advertisements and more. He claims that visually rhetoric as a communicative artifact requires that an object be symbolic, involve human intervention, and be presented to an audience for the sake of communicating with the audience. Foss also states that visual rhetoric can be a perspective. This refers to the perspective a scholar must take on a visual image or visual data. Visual rhetoric as a perspective is a tool used by scholars to approach visual images in terms of their use as a communicative device. In order to gain a perspective on a piece of visual imagery, attention must be given to one or more of three aspects of visual images, their nature, function, and evaluation. Foss concludes with how deduction and induction can lead to the rhetorical analysis of visual images.

Simply seeing two people talk on television does not immediately constitute visual rhetoric. Visual rhetoric in television shows relies on context from the situation being depicted in order to be analyzed. In the image below, watching the show on television would make the audience assume the man on the left is attacking the man on the right, but in reality the roles are reversed. Without context, the image being depicted is misleading and, therefore, has a misleading visual rhetoric, if any at all. The image itself is visually rhetoric in that it conveys the idea that you should not trust everything on television because there is always someone behind the scenes influencing what you see and what you should believe.

Question: What other forms of media rely on context to be visually rhetoric?

There's always two sides to the story.



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