Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Image analysis exercise

Savile Lumley 1915

Advertising image by Schumacher & Ettlinger, New York
      On first glance, the two images appear unconnected, the Savile Lumley image is simple in composition, subtle and the colors are muted whereas the Schumacher and Ettlinger advertisement is heavy on detail, bright and garish.  However on closer inspection a link can be established, both portray a sense of national identity and ‘propaganda’ style messages. 
      The Schumacher and Ettlinger poster, apparently just an advert for a range cooker, is covered in ‘Nationalist’ imagery; the red, white and blue, the stars and stripes, the eagle and the prominence of “Uncle Sam’.  The advert does not ‘promote’ the qualities of the range but instead a dream lifestyle.
      The Lumley image, a ‘recruitment poster’ part of the campaign ‘Your country needs YOU’. The fleur de lis and red rose’s designs on the chair and curtain both subtly reference royal symbols and therefore Great Britain.
      The Schumacher and Ettlinger poster was set in 1876, the centenary of the Declaration of Independence.  The advert appealing to a certain ‘all-American’ audience at a time when there would have been a heightened sense of patriotism.  The Lumley image was produced in 1915 in the middle of the First World War (1914 -1918).  At this time, before conscription, men had to be persuaded to sign up. The poster has a sense of emotional blackmail conveying a man’s duty to Queen and Country. This is emphasized by the son playing with toy soldiers that resemble the Queen’s guards
      The finer details of both paintings reveal further underlying ‘sinister’ messages. In the Schumacher and Ettlinger poster the numerous pots and pans and the huge turkey are more appealing than the ‘world’ menu offering potatoes in Ireland and Birds nests in China. This alludes to America’s superiority over the rest of the world.
      Furthermore the roles played by different characters all tell a tale of the time; a coloured slave, the subservient woman and the man clearly the dominant figure.  The boys called Dixil and West allude to the strength of Dixieland and the West, the land of the free.  It is no accident that New England, settler territory is represented by the ‘weaker’ woman.
      In the Lumley image both the son ‘playing’ with his toy soldiers and the daughter reading a book apparently on the war are set to play at the heart strings. The middle aged man has a contemplative expression which infers he is unable to answer his daughter’s question ‘What did ‘YOU’ do in the great war?  The poster is clearly aimed at young men, inferring if YOU do not go to war, what will you tell your children in the future?
      The difference in typography in both images also can direct us a certain way.  The Range poster typography is distinctly American in style. The capitalization is bold and strong. The larger U and S are deliberate. The ‘gold’ colour alludes to wealth and opulence.  The typeface on the Lumley poster is softer more feminine and human used to indicate the daughter is asking the question.    
        So to conclude, although the images are directed at different cultural audiences, the US and Great Britain; both have been designed to tap into society at a specific time in history and appeal to national identity.

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