As I began sifting through the materials in the sandbox, I realized that it would be interesting to have students re-appropriate images in class. Images hold so much symbolism, so it would be interesting to have students choose classic images (think: American flag, diamond ring, graduation cap, a cross, a heart) and deconstruct them. For example, students could write about what these images represent to different people, and which messages are usually paired with specific images. In addition, they could discuss where these images usually appear, and find examples of different ways these images are used within media.
Once students chose a “classic image” they could find an example to modify using the creative commons search, or a Google filtered search. Their job would be to modify the image, to somehow alter its “typical” meaning. For example, a diamond ring might become part of a set of handcuffs, or a cross might become a sword, or text might be added to prompt the viewer to consider the symbol in a new way. Students might even pair typical images with typically associated language, like you see in my image of the American Flag.
I found a very “glorious” image of an American flag shining in the sunlight, and used tuxpi.com to add a “ghostify affect”. This drained the photo of its color, and gave it a bleak connotation. Whereas before the flag looked beautiful, and almost holy; now it looked ghostly and had an almost “looming” quality. I chose to drive home the idea of American patriotism by using red, white, and blue text, and also including a key line from the “Pledge of Allegiance” (liberty and justice for all), but I re-appropriated the phrase by replacing “all” with “some”, and I made a point to use white text for “some”, while leaving the other text within that line blue. My picture now reflects a new message; one that calls into question current social issues, especially in regards to the experiences of people of color within the justice system.
This type of exercise not only asks students to analyze how symbols are used to spread messages across media, but it also asks them to think critically about propaganda and author’s purpose. I think students will get more out of the activity if they focus on a social issue they want to address, and make their modifications purposefully in order to create a specific message; rather than just modifying an image just to change the style, or make it funny.
This activity might work best for 8th -12th grade as it does ask students to consider controversial issues, and may prompt more adult discussions. However with differentiation, and the right facilitator, I think it could work at any grade level.
I felt the image I chose worked well for my design because it personified the ideal image of America. It was also well above Reynolds’s suggested 1180 x 720 pixel size minimum for photographs (105). After modifying the image in tuxpi.com, I also modified the image within Microsoft paint. I enhanced the saturation and the brightness of the image, to increase the intensity of the photograph. Just as I wanted the flag to appear looming, I wanted the brightness of the sun to appear blinding. The saturation increase seemed to deepen the stormy mood of the photo, creating contrast between light and dark. I chose the Gill Sans font, because it is mentioned as an essential font in Presentation Zen Design (39), and I wanted to get a feel for it. I also chose to make my font large (48-72pt font), in hopes that someone in the “back of the room” would be able to read my image clearly on the screen.
Two other ways I could imagine students using tools from this weeks sandbox are:
- Students could use PicMonkey to create colleges that tell short stories. Almost like a 6-word memoir, but with images and text.
- Students could use Big Huge Labs to study text features, and practice with main idea.
If you want to know more about these ideas just leave me a comment 🙂
Image Credit: Jnn13 (2009). Flag of the United States of America, backlit, windy day. Retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6221363 CC BY-SA 3.0.