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Dreaming of the Unknown

Essay by   •  July 15, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,707 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,914 Views

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It has been said throughout time that "a picture is worth ten thousand words." Which is an old chinese proverb, meaning that "words and pictures live in harmony as they are both used equally in order to understand the meaning of any work that uses them both." Thus meaning that "seeing comes before words" (John Berger, 690). A photograph captures more than just an image. It captures a meaning; a photograph can depict a sense of feeling or emotion, and can even restore a forgotten memory. Through photographs we are able to make a record of our existence. I believe photographs are powerful enough through their context and display to be able to open the eyes of our world to a sense of humanity. These photographs, "You Say I'm a Dreamer, but I'm not the Only One" (586) and "Pregame Prayer," (72, 73) share a common significance in the message they both convey; giving symbolism of human equality, freedoms and rights.

When I first observed these two photographs, I felt like they had some sort of a connected meaning. Looking beyond what is right in front of you, in Taking a Stand, McQuade, describes, "this is a time when questioning what you see and taking a stand on the issues generated by images - is more important than ever before. ...today more and more people must demonstrate another kind of literacy, a visual literacy - the ability to read, understand, and act on the information conveyed in powerful imagery" (582). Putting into action what McQuade states, I have taken the time to observe both of these photographs, their details and text that has been incorporated within each photo. These photographs have lead me to question my thoughts as to what I see and most of all taking a stand; as to the significance of what these photographs portray, and relaying those significances throughout this essay.

In the photo "You Say I'm a Dreamer, but I'm not the Only One", is a campaign advertisement for Amnesty International, created by an ad agency based out of San Francisco, California. The first significance I had noticed about this advertisement is that the content of the ad is divided. This reveals the importance of the message the artist is trying to convey by separating the top half of the image, from the bottom half - the text of the advertisement campaign. The top half of the photo is mostly in black and white with only an object in color. Directly centered in the photo is a young African American boy. He is standing up, peering down, intrigued by this object, which lies in front of him. Both of his arms and hands are stretched out in front of him; placed upon the object, which he is starring into. It is the only object in color resembling a light blue sky with wispy white clouds in the shape of a globe, cut off from the division of the advertisement. Within the black background of the image, aligned to the right of the page, there is a faded quote by Martin Luther King Jr. which reads: "... Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream" (586). Meaning that all people are entitled to human rights; "basic rights and freedoms regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

The bottom half of this advertisement displays a colorful background, which resembles the same light blue sky and wispy white clouds just as the object in the above top half of the advertisement. I noticed that the colors appearing on the bottom half of the advertisement are inverted from the colors appearing on the top half of the advertisement. Meaning the same colors have been used, except they are used opposite of one another. Unlike the top half of the advertisement the bottom half of the advertisement displays mainly text. The text is directly centered on the page, revealing a significant meaning:

Imagine, you may say i'm a dreamer, but i'm not the only one. Imagine a worldwide movement working to protect the dignity and rights of all people. And imagine it works. For 40 years, Amnesty International members have saved countless lives - people persecuted, imprisoned, or tortured simply for who they are or what they believe. Many more need your help. Take Action. Log on. Join us. www.amnestyusa.org

According to Amnesty International, this message reveals the vision of the campaign, "to engage and inspire the next generation of human right activists" (McQuade, 589).

After looking into what this photo means to me, I began to visualize the significance of this photo. This photo being in half black and white, the African American boy, and his hand placement, was as if he were larger than life to the object he is peering down at. I believe this to have a greater significance; as if the boy were looking down from above from another world. Another world he deeply wants to be apart of. The texts reads, "you may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one." This to me signifies that he is peering into the world of his dreams and reflecting everything he could only ever hope for, as to the freedoms

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