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Distinctively Visual Essay

Distinctively Visual
The distinctively visual is a prominent characteristic in which the composer shapes a unique visual perspective for the responder to interpret. Using a variety of techniques and languages, the composer is distinctively able to create vibrant and lively visualisations within their work. The poetry of Douglas Stewart, in particular ‘Lady feeding the cats’ and ‘Nesting time’ and the image of ‘’Firefighters at twin towers attack’’ photographed by Todd Maisel are particularly effective. Douglas’ poems uniquely portray ordinary people and outsiders at touching and meaningful moments, experiences and connection with nature that creates an image to the reader the relationship of man and nature and how nature can challenge man with its actions.

The photograph deals with a specific moment in time that captures and conveys the powerful life changing impact of the 9/11 disaster and shows devastating and appalling situation to the viewer. These texts not only bring to life others and their experiences but visually seek a connection with the viewer that enriches their own experiences through creating an image of the lively visualisations around us. The poem, ‘Lady feeding the cats’ by Douglas Stewart is distinctively visual as it challenges the reader to move beyond first impressions.

The responder is led to reassess how we view people and places and the assumptions made about them. The poet does this by firstly confirming the preconceptions of the woman, the cats and her physical environment. This is evident in stanza one through Stewart’s use of visual imagery; ‘’broken shoes, slums weather stains’’ explaining to the reader the economic standing of the woman in the world and her physical being as she moves forward to feeding the cats. This is reinforced by the sibilance providing a striking visual image of the physical and economic hardship. However, in stanza 3 the woman is portrayed to be acquainted with respect by the cats as they get their feeding.

This is evident through Stewart’s use of metaphorical language to picture this lady the way the cats portray her; ‘’ princess out of a tower’’ alluding to fairy tale images and juxtaposing them with the old ragged lady emphasizing on her high position to the cats and their welcoming of her to their physical environment demonstrating the reciprocal relationship between man and nature. Thus, through the thought provoking images that are created through the poetic language, the reader’s perceptions and expectations are challenged as they find a deeper understanding and appreciation for the subtle beauty that can be observed in the ordinary occurrences of everyday life.

Moreover, the poem, ‘Nesting time’ by Douglas Stewart is distinctively visual through the utilisation of poetic techniques to build a visual image that challenges the reader’s initial impression of a bird and nature. The responder is led to position the bird as deviancy of Nature, a risk taker and a chance to take at the man reflecting on how nature can challenge humanity through its natural actions. The poet does this by firstly focusing on the bird’s brave movements towards the man creating an image of the challenging nature of the bird. This is evident through Stewart’s use of the verb, ‘’darts’’; ‘That darts from scribbly-gum to banksia tree’ emphasizing on the rapid movement of the bird as it makes its way across the man creating an image to the reader of the dangerous and challenging character the bird inherits. This is contrasted with the next line; ‘and lights upon the head of small daughter’, the action of the bird reveals a soft response creating an image to the reader of the man’s response to the bird’s changing nature.

Furthermore, Stewart is visually able to create the challenging and dangerous nature of the bird towards through the use of the onomatoepia; ‘Pick-pick-pick it goes with its sharp beak’ shaping the man’s initial impression of the bird as lively and adventurous creating an image to the reader of the bird’s exploring nature. This is reinforced with the adjective of ‘sharp’ emphasizing on the visual appearances and physical impression of the bird creating an image to the reader of the bird’s physical nature and the man’s initial description of the bird. Thus, through the initial impression of the man of the bird’s brave and challenging movements by the utilisation of poetic techniques, the reader is able to visualise the bird’s characteristic it inherits and gain a deeper understanding of nature and the impression of humanity distinctively.

In addition, the image “Firefighters at Twin Towers attack” Photograph by Todd Maisel by is distinctively visual as it challenges perceptions about the rescuers being invincible as they are presented in a defenceless state. The image depicts the struggle of the rescuers from the impact of the destruction of the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in New York in September 11th 2001. The composer portrays the image of the rescuers being a protection and guardian for the man as they carry him away from the destruction and smoke behind them. This is visually represented through the symbolism of firefighter’s uniform is ironic of them dishevelled and covered in ash showing them as invincible and getting away from the attack. Also, the close proximity of the three figures emphasizes seeking safety through connection.

Furthermore, the image distinctively depicts the idea of the rescuers being defenceless through the gaze of the figure on right is directed at the camera, imploring whilst the two other figures gaze are downcast. This is reinforced with the framing of the figures at the extreme right and foreground reflecting their attempts to move away from the destruction which challenges our idea of the firefighters as men being in the midst of the disaster. Therefore, through the impact of the attack and the harsh case of the destruction, the viewer is able to visualise the effect on the firefighters and place themselves in the same situation creating sympathy and empathy for the three figures as they struggle to proceed through the debris showing their defenceless state.

In conclusion, through the use of imagery, poetic techniques and the composer’s vibrant visualisations, we are able to shape meaning and understanding of the distinctively visual portrayed in the poems of Douglas Stewart, ‘Lady feeding the cats’ and ‘Nesting time’ and the striking and iconic image of the firefighters in the aftermath of 9/11 which are particularly effective. This portrays to the viewer the relationship in man and nature also visualising the struggle of human nature as it faces a devastating and confronting disaster.


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