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The strength of the visual medium as a means of communication

We see, as we say, according
to the education, we have received.
In the world, we only see what we have learned
to believe that the world contains.
We have been conditioned to “expect” to see
-Aaron Siskind-

We live in an era where photography is of daily use, every day we are assaulted by any genre of visual incitement and we produce a huge quantity of pictures due to social networks. We carry our mobile phone always in hand and we have a talent for photojournalism: if we could capture the glare of one grain of dust on our new TV LED Ultra HD 4K 80”, our Instagram Stories would be a lot more interesting.

Don’t be afraid, we’ll talk about that later!

We all are universally and deeply attracted by photos, but why do we like it so much to take them, to see them and stow them away? The answer is very simple: photography is a powerful expressive mean which allows us, through a symbolic system, to say what we can’t express in words; photography is able to provoke feelings and behaviors we are not aware of.

You’re wondering what this means, aren’t you? Here are some explicative examples:

Do you ever feel like wanting to leaf through your family album or to see the pictures of you as a child? Have you ever noticed how many memories and feelings this evokes,  together with the embarrassment of wearing white socks high to the knees? Have you noticed how many details, that you hadn’t seen before, grab now your attention causing you to think, smile or even cry? That’s the kind of power of images have: to cause different emotional reactions, thoughts and reflections in who’s watching.

And if it has ever happened to you to go to an art exhibition or a photography exhibition with a friend and discuss with him/her for hours on the meaning of something without agreeing, just know that this is another type of power of images: we all reflect on the photo a series of meanings, feelings, thoughts and considerations deriving from a personal world of knowledge and experiences which differ from one person  to the other.

Or just try to think about when you take a selfie with your friends, what happens the moment you’ve taken the picture? There’s the anxious one who wants immediately to see the picture just to comment “I look so bad!”, even if he or she is the only person that looks good and only hopes to receive some compliments like  “Oh come on, you look good!” (damn need of approval!) ; then there’s the shy one asking to quickly delete the picture (damn insecurity!) ; there’s the one who doesn’t care at all because he or she already knows the picture is horrible (passive pessimist!) and there’s the narcissist (there’s always one of them!)  who, with a pleased smile, shouts to you to share the picture. Finally, there are the kids who look at the photos without prejudices but filled with curiosity and joy when recognizing themselves.

In this case too, our reactions are extremely personal since they’re strictly related with the internal, mental image we have about ourselves, which represents the way we see ourselves and the way we want other people to see us (Mr. Moscarda from Pirandello reminds you of anything?). How a single one creates his own image in his head is a very complex and articulated process. If anyone is interested (not being fed up with what has already been told) he can find a rich and simple explanation here.

And to the others: would you mind writing a comment with the first thing that crossed your mind while reading this article about the power of images? Except for offenses!

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