Friday, 22 June 2018

Exercise: Symbols

This exercise is in two parts. Firstly using our own research we are to find 5 images from Robert Frank's Americans and show where symbols are used and how they function.

The second part is to read the introduction written by Jack Kerouac to the Americas highlighting symbolic references.

I have always admred this work since I first discovered it on the OCA courses and have made several blog entries already. This exercise will hopefully help me to understand why I admire it so much.

1.  In this image the symbols are the American flags and hidden faces. This symbolising American people may not want to reveal their identity and remain anonymous. Is this an America they can associate with?
Robert Frank - The Americans
2. The Contrast of skin colour, symbolising class divides with a black nanny caring for a white child. Frank's was always looking for images that illustrated he social divide of post war America. This symbolises a new generation in which perhaps little will change.

Robert Frank - The Americans
3. Another Symbol of social divide here is the champagne and associated wealth

Robert Frank - The Americans
4. Taken at a Hollywood premier. Symbolic that the actress is the largest part of the image but not the focus. In focus are the women admirers and followers, the normal Americans that are perhaps kept in the shadows of America.

Robert Frank - The Americans
5. I really like this image. For me the symbols are the mundane look of the elevator girl. Stuck in this job with no movement, whilst people around move about. The use of both blurred moved and a sharper static people emphasises this.

Robert Frank - The Americans
Kerouac's introduction into this book really does wet the appetite and goes a long way to planting the seeds of symbols. He makes a clear association of his past with the image taken in a Backyard in Venice California. This image has symbols or defiance, being sheltered by America yet in a run down old yard where the old car is left to rot (another symbol).

I believe there is a hidden symbol in the quotation from Shakespeare, here referencing Frank's work to true art. Other symbols called out are the rattlesnake and the gopher, meant for evil and perhaps the general population in a level and low world, symbolising low morals with no change.

A photograph of kids staying in the car could be a symbol of conformance, of danger is the taking of the image a form of defiance?

Throughout the passage Kerouac also uses a play on words, for example "pitchers" which may mean pictures or the way in which the pictures are presented (pitched). His language also has echos of the slang that many black or underprivileged Americans would have used at this time symbolising their differences.

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