Defining Visual Rhetorics: Film Rhetoric

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Blakesley, David. “Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Eds. Charles A. Hill and Marguerite Helmers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 2270-2710 of 6169. Ebook.

Hitchcock “drew our attention to the power of the visual as an appeal to the audience’s desire and as a means of interrogating identification” (Blakesley 2274 of 6169).

“visual became more than just the primary medium or technique of cinema’s appeal, but additionally, and in modernist-fashion, cinema’s contested subject” (Blakesley 2279 of 6169).

Blakesley wrote that the end of the 20th century saw a desire to understand the “function of the image in its own right as well as the inter animation of the visual and the verbal in our means of (re)presentation” (Blakesley 2282 of 6169).

Films, such as The English Patient, The Matrix, and Memento, “that self-consciously contest the relationships among realism and identity make excellent subjects for the study of film rhetoric and thus for understanding the verbal and visual ingredients of identification” (Blakesley 2288 of 6169).

Blakesley said there was a “rhetorical or linguistic turn” in the 80s and a “visual turn” in the 90s (Blakesley 2290 of 6169).

“[V]erbal is [fundamentally] implicated in epistemology” (Blakesley 2290 of 6169).

“[T]he visual turn simply asserts that symbolic action entails visual representation in the inseparable and complex verbal, visual, and perceptual acts of making meaning” (Blakesley 2293 of 6169).

“interplay between visuality, apparatus, institutions, discourse, bodies, and figurality” (Blakesley 2300 of 6169).

Blakesley defines spectatorship as “the look, the gaze, the glance, the practices of observation, surveillance, and visual pleasure” (Blakesley 2303 of 6169).

The visual “might not be fully explicable on the model of textuality” (Blakesley 2303 of 6169).

Blakesley identifies his conclusion as discussing the “visual component of identification” and “how film rhetoric elaborates and exploits visual ambiguity to foster identification” (Blakesley 2308 of 6169).

describes 4 approaches to film rhetoric, saying they “share interests in identification and persuasion” but that they “reveal substantial disagreement about the nature of film rhetoric or about whether rhetoric itself is any more than a means of textual analysis” (Blakesley 2310 of 6169). He also cites himself in the introduction of the collection The Terministic Screen: Rhetorical Perspectives on Film.

The four approaches are film language, film ideology, film interpretation, and film identification.

Blakesley quotes Benson defines rhetoric “as the study of symbolic inducement” (qtd in Blakesley 2313 of 6169).

Examines Vertigo using identification as rhetoric’s key term (Blakesley 2329 of 6169).

Mentions Christian Metz’s work which attempted “to develop a sign system for film spectatorship” and his concept of “the mirror stage–the moment of self-recognition and distinction that marks the immersion into language” (Blakesley 2334 of 6169). Metz then ties this to “the imaginary (the realm of secondary identification)” (Blakesley 2327 of 6169).

If film can be approached as a language, then “there is a grammar of visual signs that operates predictably and that can be used to generate an infinite variety of meanings” (Blakesley 2339 of 6169).

“In the realm of the textual or the visual, the ideological apparatus has a determinative influence on what is read or seen at the moment of perception” (Blakesley 2347 of 6169).

“[T]he medium of the visual functions ideologically as well” (Blakesley 2350 of 6169).

Visual composition functions rhetorically” as “[t]he rhetorical operates at the moment of choice or neglect” (Blakesley 2353 of 6169).

“Metz helps us understand more fully the visual nature of identification” (Blakesley 2361 of 6169).

Identification rhetoric “manifest[s] as a desire for orientation” (Blakesley 2410 of 6169).

Hitchcock's_cameo_appearances._Vertigo btw 1923 and 1977 wout copyright notice WC pdHe then begins his discussion of Vertigo.

Modleski argues “Hitchcock allows that perspective to shift in unexpected but prominent ways and thus suggests the plasticity of identification” (Blakesley 2515 of 6169).

“identification and division are ambiguously contemporaneous” (Blakesley 2536 of 6169).

“Whether the means are verbal or visual, the rhetorical act involves imagining that such identity is possible and that its effects are real” (Blakesley 2539 of 6169).

“Identification is inherently an action-together of subject-object” (Blakesley 2554 of 6169).

At 2628 of 6169, Blakesley begins to speak specifically on visual rhetoric and identification.

“[T]he visual functions as an appeal” (Blakesley 2641 of 6169).

“rhetoric that elaborates and exploits visual ambiguity to foster identification” (Blakesley 2644 of 6169).

computer and glassesRelated Readings:
J. T. Mitchell’s Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation

Blakesley’s edited collection The Terministic Screen: Rhetorical Perspectives on Film, specifically his introduction.

Tania Modleski’s The Women Who Knew Too Much

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