Wednesday, September 15th my visual literacy class was held at the Newsuem located in Washington, D.C.
My classmate Yordano drove Kelsey and I to the location, getting Starbucks beforehand to wake up our minds at such an early hour. There we found half of the class with the same idea in mind. The class met up outside the Newsuem Building where we entered through the side with our free admission (definitely a bonus not having to pay $20).
Once we entered, I noticed the architecture of the building from within. It was very clean, crisp, and modern looking. With a cool grey tone of metal and glass being a repetitive facade throughout.
We got to sit down on a 4-D Immersive experience that featured films highlighting the world’s greatest stories and moments. Once that ended we entered a gallery and viewed the most comprehensive collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs. This gallery I would have to say was my favorite part of the Newseum. The photographs on displayed were truly captivating and each had a riveting story behind it along with interviews. I spent most of my time in this room, for it caught my attention and did not let go.
The Pulitzer Prize winning photographs made me realize how amazing it is that wavelengths of light captured and printed on a paper impact the human eye that is viewing it. Without the use of words but instead just an image a strong and moving message is able to be conveyed “of a significant moment…of a spectacular sight.” (Jim Krause pp 8 ) Just looking at a photograph one can absorb a great deal of information and not one word of explanation is necessary.
An image can tell the story and evoke emotions, gloomy or joyful, horrifying or exhilarating, whatever emotion is being communicated the viewer will feel it through the image. These emotions can simply be brought out by the color in the image itself. “Color can soothe, irritate, calm and invigorate.” (Krause pp 106) In addition, an image can give the time of day, season, location, as well as tell a story of what is the occasion or what is happening. Like written in Photo Idea Index by Jim Krause, “As seasons change, so do photo opportunities.”
Images are a great medium for news reporters to tell a story without the use of any words. Not only is the story vividly told through the photograph, but also an actual vision is presented to the viewer. Just from the color in the image, the viewer is “informed, influenced, attracted and compeled through countless visual and emotional channels.” ( Krause pp 106)
While countless photographs caught my eye due to their powerful and thought provoking content, a certain set of photographs by Matt Rainey, a 2001 Pulitzer Photo award-winner, caught my interest for numerous reasons. His emotional photographs illustrate the care and recovery of two students critically burned in a dormitory fire at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. For one, I am a college student so in a sense I feel like that could’ve been me or any of my peers. Another being my phobia of fire.
In Matt Rainey’s photographs a sense of pain is evoked from the viewer. Even more so since the images are not in color but instead monochromatic, creating a “dramatic difference.” (Krause pp 338 ) In additionally, the photographer did not only take pictures of the tragedy, but followed and documented the recovery of the two college students following the fire. Which, in order “to consistently capture great images, a photographer must spend a certain amount of time” acquiring photos. (Krause pp 164)
“The fire at Boland Hall killed three freshmen and injured 58 others including four critically. One of the doors to the third floor still bears evidence of a student’s struggle to escape the blaze.” (Matt Rainey)
As Jim Krause states in Photo Idea Index, “Next to the face, the hand is probably the most expressive part of a human being.” (Krause pp 158) In the image pictured above, the human face is present as well is the hand. This displays and stimulates emotions of dramatic sadness and pain, all through the human’s body language captured in a still-life.
In the lower image, the photo displays emotion with a tear drop coming from the eye, bringing “maximum attention” to the subject. (Krause pp 147) “We do not actually have to touch the the substance to comprehend its texture”, we are just able to look at the images, see the moist tear drops covering the humans face, the roughness of the bandages wrapped aroound the humans head, and the tenderness of the burnt wounds. (Nemett pp 75)
“Alvaro was burned over 58% of his body. Three months after the fire he stares aimlessly into space as he awakens from a drug-induced coma, his eyes partially sewn shut by the doctors to protect his corneas.” (Matt Rainey)
Following the Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographs, Yordano and I visited the NBC News Interactive Newsroom. This gave us a chance to play the role of a reporter and photographer. We interacted with touch-screen stations, pretended to be reporters in-front of the camera, and played the NewsMania game that had an impressive high-tech touch/shadow screen.
Preceding the interactive NBC room, Yordano and I visited the gift shop which had numerous trinkets that we could of easily spent the entire time exploring and playing with. We then took the elevator up and walked through the Katrina Hurricane exhibit and the 9/11 exhibit. It had many photographs on display in addition to artifacts from the aftermaths ruins. Many of these things brought horror to my eyes. This is reality in-front of my very own eyes, i thought.
Because we were pressed for time and had to return to American University by a certain hour for a class that we had following the trip, Yordano and I could not spend as much time as we wished to at the Newsuem. Before our departure we wanted to make one last stop at the top where the balcony was located. It was a beautiful day and with a vista like the one we had from the top of the Newsuem, the city seemed even more so delightful.
Krause, Jim. Photo Idea Index. HOW Books, an imprint of F+W Publications, Inc., 1995.
Nemett, Barry, Images, Objects and Ideas: Viewing The Visual Arts, Mcgraw Hill, 1996.