The art of persuasion, metaphor and desire

Watkin, F 2010, The art of persuasion, metaphor and desire, Masters by Research, Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

Attached Files
Name Description MIMEType Size
Watkin.pdf Thesis application/pdf 58.62MB
shanghai_desire_series_number3_2009.wmv China Series Video 0:30 Seconds Click to show the corresponding preview/stream video/x-ms-wmv 2.83MB
shoes_desire_series_number5_2009.wmv Australian Series Video 1:08 Minutes Click to show the corresponding preview/stream video/x-ms-wmv 5.18MB
Title The art of persuasion, metaphor and desire
Author(s) Watkin, F
Year 2010
Abstract This art project is an investigation into the relationship between the representation of women in billboard advertising and women’s health and wellbeing. The impact of advertising on the formation of female concepts of self-worth and self-empowerment is given specific attention. The project’s title The Art of Persuasion, Metaphor, and Desire is a visual, metaphorical, and psychological reference to the appropriation of female private space by billboard advertising in a contemporary urban (both western and eastern) context.

The objective was to create a body of work which reflects a personal response to gender issues in advertising by creating an alternative iconography. The final installations are reflective works, which physically and metaphorically deconstruct and re-imagine the layering of meaning and content in contemporary representations of women.

The intention is to reflect, re-structure, re-present and re-imagine visual and structural metaphor in advertising. I have done this by deconstructing and then reconstructing my own photographs of billboards, posters and the urban environment in Australia and China. I have endeavoured to create new, multi-layered metaphors, ambiguity and juxtapositions that ask reflective questions of the viewer rather than provide answers. I hope this imagery will elicit individual responses from the viewer, as these responses are crucial to the perception of these works as critical interventions.

Contemporary high heel shoes, explicitly the stiletto and its historic counterpoint the Lotus Shoe, act as a potent gender symbol in the imagery. The psychological, metaphoric layering evinced by the contemporary high-heeled shoe references the political, social, economic and class history of women in eastern and western cultures.

Chinese and European shoes, with their historic references, offered a rich and multi-layered perspective on culturally defined gender norms. The project is not about shoes but it is concerned with shoes as a metaphor for gender construction; therefore, the research into the Chinese and European history of shoes is generic rather than explicit. Research was undertaken in Australia and in China.

The stiletto’s significance is as a universal female sign and icon. Its visual and metaphorical function, in the final works, is as a potent signifier of culturally constructed identity and gender representation.

The rationale for the project is a body of research that indicates that women's attitudes toward their own bodies are influenced by the representation of women in the media and in advertising billboards and magazines. Based on this social research it was reasonable to think that women, when they look at a billboard, see themselves through the advertiser’s eyes. This means that the dominant, consumer culture influences women’s sense of self-worth and wellbeing.

My research questions focused on current critical theory in regard to gender and concepts of female identity and self-worth, the construction of metaphoric meaning in advertising, the appropriation of private and public female spaces as a significant issue in the contemporary context and the significance of the historic nexus between masculine gender and technology.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Keyword(s) photography
consumer culture
female identity
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Created: Mon, 06 Dec 2010, 10:46:25 EST
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