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Final Assignement_Visual Communication_MK020G___Ende Paper

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Visual Communication

?rebro UniversitySpring 2019Assimakis Tseronis


Visual Communication

?rebro UniversitySpring 2019Assimakis Tseronis



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TOC o “1-3” h z u 1.Introduction PAGEREF _Toc4838034 h 22.Theoretical framework PAGEREF _Toc4838035 h 22.1.Visual markers of modality PAGEREF _Toc4838036 h 22.1.Social actors and representation PAGEREF _Toc4838037 h 33.Analysis PAGEREF _Toc4838038 h 43.1.Modality and colour PAGEREF _Toc4838039 h 53.2.Social actors and representation PAGEREF _Toc4838040 h 54.Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc4838041 h 65.Reference list PAGEREF _Toc4838042 h 76.Appendix PAGEREF _Toc4838043 h 86.1.poster motif: domestic violence PAGEREF _Toc4838044 h 86.2.poster motif: violence to uphold family honour PAGEREF _Toc4838045 h 96.3.poster motif: genital mutilation PAGEREF _Toc4838046 h 106.4.poster motif: abduction / trafficking in human beings PAGEREF _Toc4838047 h 116.5.poster motif: stoning PAGEREF _Toc4838048 h 12


Violence against women and girls remains the most frequent human rights violation worldwide (Bundeszentrale f?r politische Bildung, 2014). According to a study by the FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014), at least one in three women worldwide fall victim to physical and/or sexual violence in the course of their lives. The WHO identifies violence against women as one of the greatest health risks for women worldwide (as cited in Bundeszentrale f?r politische Bildung, 2014).

The non-profit women’s rights organization Terre des Femmes (French, translation: Women’s Earth) has been working since 1981 for the protection of human rights of women (Terre des femmes, n.d.). Their campaign “Violence against women is everyday life” from 2017 consisted of TV spots and 5 different poster motifs which show different types of violence.

For this analysis, the poster on domestic violence was chosen because physical violence by a trusted partner is the most common form of violence against women worldwide. In addition, this motif stands out from the campaign. The reasons for this are worked out in the following analysis.

Theoretical frameworkFirst, however, an overview is given of the various aspects based on which visual media can be analysed and which appear meaningful for this concrete example.

Visual markers of modality

“The term ‘modality’ comes from linguistics and refers to the truth value or credibility of /…/ statements about the world” (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2006, p.155). The concept of modality is also important for visual communication.

Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) state that there are eight modality markers to rank the perceived realistic of visual media. The markers “are scales that run from high to low modality, much like the scales from ‘certain’ to ‘uncertain’ with ‘probable’ in between” (Machin, 2007, p.48).

The first ‘scale’ ranks the degree of articulation of detail and “runs from maximum detail to maximum abstraction” (Machin, 2007, p.48). It evaluates whether it would have looked the same if we had seen the situation ourselves. Degrees of articulation of the background also looks at details, but the detailedness of the background. “Backgrounds might be ranging from a blank space, via /…/ out-of-focus backgrounds, to maximally shaped” (Machin, 2007, p. 51). The marker articulation of depth assesses the depth of the image and ranges from deep perspective to absence of perspective (Machin, 2007, p.52). The fourth marker – degrees of illumination – evaluates the closeness to reality based on the naturalness of light and shadow. An image without shadows or with unnatural lighting conditions has a low modality (Machin, 2007, p.53).

The next four markers thematize the colours of pictures. Articulation of tone thereby looks at “whether the colours in the image have a range of differences in tones /…/ or whether we find only simple polarities of dark and bright” (Machin, 2007, p.54). The degree of colour modulation is “a scale running from fully modulated colour, with, for example, the use of many different shades of red, to plain, unmodulated colour” (Krees and van Leuwen, 2006, p.160). So, the scale rates if the picture shows natural colour variations (Machin, 2007, p.54). “How full and rich colours appear” (Machin, 2007, p.54) is rated with degrees of colour saturation. It can variate from full colour saturation to only using black and white (Krees & van Leeuwen, 2006, p.160). The last scale – colour differentiation – evaluates how many colours are available (Machin, 2007, p. 56).

Social actors and representationIn addition to the realistic, the type of representation of the persons in the picture is meaningful. For example, persons, animals, etc. can be represented individualised or collectivised. This choice “is important for the connection of the viewer to the interests and experiences of the participants” (Machin, 220, p.118).

Furthermore, it must be considered whether and according to which aspects the persons have been categorised. “These are resources for informing the observer which types of participants are involved” (Machin, 2007, p.118) and relevant for whether the viewer can identify with these persons. In this context, a distinction is made between biological or cultural aspects. “Cultural categorisation is realised through standard attributes of hairstyle, adornment etc. “(Machin, 2007, p.120). Biological categorisation is achieved by highlighting stereotypical features (Machin, 2007, p.121).

Next, the actions of the persons in the picture are also significant. There are six different processes to distinguish: material, behavioural, mental, verbal, relational and existential. Material is when the person is “doing something in the world that has a material result” (Machin, 2007, p.128) like building a house. Behavioural is the counterpart – an “act without material outcome”. Mental includes processes like “thinking, evaluating, sensing” (Machin, 2007, p.128) and if the person in the picture speaks, it is a verbal process (Machin, 2007, p.124). Relational processes are “where people are represented as being like, or different to, something else” (Machin, 2007, p.124). Existential processes are shown if “people are represented simply in a state of existing, appearing” (Machin, 2007, p.124).

Besides the question “How are participants represented”, the non-representation of persons or objects also plays an effective role. This can be for example “a way to hide the responsibility for actions or to remove the role of some participants” (Machin, 2007, p.121).

And what’s more, the relationships between the groups – the persons presented and the interactive participants – are relevant for the analysis (Machin, 2007). Special importance is attached to the achieved interaction of the representation with the viewer. A direct gaze of the persons depicted into the eyes of the observer acts as a demand of information or services, while an indirect gaze acts as an offer of service or information (Machin, 2007, p.110). The size of frame depicts social distance and ranges from close-up, via medium to long-shot. It can suggest intimacy or remoteness. The perspective makes the attitude towards the person depicted clear. A distinction can be made between an objective and subjective perspective. The angle of the shot also has an impact on the relationship to the observer (Machin, 2007). The horizontal variation from frontal to side creates involvement and the vertical angle of high, eyelevel or low has an influence on the balance of power. “If someone is shown at the same level /…/ equality is implied” (Machin, 2007, p.115).

AnalysisAt first sight, the poster shows a gorgeous woman without clothes, but part of her face is hidden through a ‘crack’ in the poster. The background is almost monochrome. Apart from the woman, only the logo of a women’s rights organisation and a slogan are printed on the poster. It is written there in German: Every fourth woman is a victim of violence. Imagine a country where millions of women are regularly beaten, abused and raped. Welcome to Germany.

If one considers the slogan and the initiators of the posters, it becomes clear that the rupture of the poster is supposed to represent bruises on the woman’s cheek. There a two reasons for this type of visualization. First, it represents a “light” version of showing injuries and could have been selected to not dramatize the subject. Further, this type of design may have been chosen to follow the journalistic-ethical principles of the German Press Code which also contains journalistic principles for reporting accidents and disasters (Press Council, 2017). Accordingly, reporting finds its limits in respect for the suffering of victims and the feelings of relatives. “Those affected by the disaster must not be allowed to become victims a second time through the depiction” (Presserat, 2017, p. 27). This principle for the protection of victims is also largely followed in campaigns by human rights organisations.

Modality and colourLet us now move on to a more detailed analysis. As explained before, there are 8 modality markers to analyse the realistic of visual communication media such as posters. In total, this picture has a medium modality.

The foreground is shown very detailed. It creates a very realistic and natural representation of the woman. In contrast to this, the background is blurred and monochrome. It does not give the impression of a certain setting of the situation. In interaction with it, the picture also shows a low depth. It consists of two parts. The level of the woman, the slogan and the logo and the monochrome background. All the points addressed so far help to focus on the injured woman and the slogan.

The illumination has a high modulation. One does not see a source of light, but the light comes clearly from in front of the woman’s face and does look natural. The light is directly shining at her like a spotlight and enables us to recognize her face expression better. She shows a brave, strong view into the viewers eyes and a minimal smile.

The tone and the colour modulation are also high, because all shades between very dark (almost black) brown and white are present. It’s not in any part of the picture just a plain colour. This supports the realism. Colour Saturation, on the other hand, has a low modality -only shades of brown are shown.

Brown is often associated with warmth, earthy, natural, traditional, cosiness. Presenters, however, are negative associations such as seclusion, dirt and sadness. In this context, brown has a ‘dirty’ effect (webdesign journal; ohne Datum). The theme of violence against women and especially domestic violence is here the ‘dirty’ theme that is brought into focus.

Social actors and representationBesides the modality markers, the decisions for the representation of the woman and the resulting effects are significant.

If you look at the representation and the actions in the pictures the women are generally presented in the same way. They all take place in front of the same background and the women are posing (cf. image 1 till 5). That’s an existential process. The pictures depict the women in an individualised way and they are categorised by their sex, by biological attributes. Not visible – and therefore absent – is the person who caused the injuries. One can only see the consequences of violence. Also absent are clothes. This shows the women as vulnerable but also strong, because they don’t hide their wounds.

Although at first sight the pictures seem similar in terms of the representation and actions of the women, differences are noticeable when looking at the type of recording and the resulting relationship to the viewer.

Just like the other pictures, the poster offers us information about violence against women by the depiction of the woman, her injuries and the slogan and the picture is taken as a medium-shot. This difference of this motif is the oblique and slightly low angle which puts the woman in an elevated position, slightly looking down on the viewer. It is a subjective perspective because you can only see parts of her face and it puts the injuries in the focus to show that the relevant aspect is not the gorgeous woman. This motif is the only one showing the woman from this angle and with a minimal smile, so she looks militant. This angle presents the woman not as a victim, but as an affected person who courageously shows what happened to her in order to draw attention to the subject. This kind of presentation makes it clear that those affected should not be ashamed or keep silent. At the same time, the view slightly downwards, directly into the eyes of the observer, seems like a demand to stand up and to act side by side with her against violence against women.

ConclusionEmotional and successful campaigns – like this one – are important to show that, despite the progress made, women are still at great risk of falling victim to violence. The issue must be on the public agenda.

The women in the foreground, directly in the centre of the light source and the lack of clothing with which affected women often conceal or cach? injuries, sends a clear message that the subject should not be hushed up and that affected women do not have to be ashamed. At the same time, the absence of clothes makes them vulnerable and creates the feeling of wanting to protect them.

The choice of the monochrome background reinforces the statement that every woman could everywhere become a victim of violence. This is also supported through the diversity of the chosen models.

In my opinion, the artistic depiction of the injuries as cracks in the poster is a successful way of depicting them without tearing open possible traumas. At the same time, however, it should be noted that this way of representation can also be perceived as ‘flaws’ or ‘imperfection’. This impression should certainly not be achieved by the campaign, but it is important to keep this in mind when dealing with such a sensitive topic.

Over all the picture of domestic violence fulfils the purpose of the campaign most satisfactorily. The slogan already refers directly to Germany and the widespread attitude ‘that only happens to others’ or ‘elsewhere’. Further, the angle of reception and the facial expression makes her appear strong and proud. She looks down on the viewer, seems determined to change the present situation and to bring the subject out of the ‘taboo’ zone. At the same time, the slightly low angle creates a relationship with the viewer which, in contrast to the other motifs, goes beyond offering information. It is a demand to act against violence against women.

Reference list

Bundeszentrale f?r politische Bildung (2014). Gewalt gegen Frauen. Available at

Immoos, F. (2010). Farben. Wahrnehmung Assoziation Psychoenergetik. Retrieved from

G., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design, 2nd

edition. London: Routledge, chapters 4 & 5, pp. 114-175.

Machin, D. (2007). Introduction to multimodal analysis: London: Bloomsbury.

Webdesign journal (n.D.) Psychologische Wirkung von Farben und Farbkombinationen

[Online]. Retrieved from

Presserat (2017). Publizistische Grunds?tze (Pressekodex). Richtlinien f?r die publizistische

Arbeit nach den Empfehlungen des Deutschen Presserates. Beschwerdeordnung. Retrieved from /Pressekodex2017_web.pdfTerres des femmes (n.d.). ?ber uns. Retrieved from ueberunsAppendixposter motif: domestic violence


Every fourth woman is a victim of violence.

Imagine a country where millions of women are regularly beaten, abused and raped. Welcome to Germany.

poster motif: Violence to uphold family honour


In love. Engaged. Burned.

Violence against women is part of everyday life. Help us to change that.

poster motif: genital mutilation


Every hour, over 300 girls are mutilated.

The idea of having their genitals cut off without anaesthesia is unbearable. Just like the pain that accompanies them throughout their lives.

poster motif: abduction/trafficking in human beings


Every minute a woman is abducted.

The abduction victims not only lose their freedom, but also their dignity: they are sold to men or forced into prostitution.

poster motif: stoning


It usually is a woman.

Stonings are still part of everyday life. Help us to change that.

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