Part 1 Deconstruction
As an interpretive approach to reading pictures we can consider the work of Jacques Derrida and his term Deconstruction; which argued that language is malleable containing a power of it’s own which cannot be restricted by the artist or author and essentially what exists are possibilities of meaning. The concept of an equal status between artist or author and viewer or reader is itself an important theme of post-modernism and to find meaning we should deconstruct the picture in order to question it’s component parts. What Derrida was encouraging was in effect a questioning of knowledge and not simply a blind acceptance of what is presented.
In his essay, ‘The Principle of Reason’ Derrida asked:
“Who is more faithful to reason’s call, who hears it with a keener ear….the one who offers questions in return and tries to think through the possibility of that summons, or the one who does not want to hear any question about the reason of reason?” (Jacques Derrida)
Exercise: HSBC Advertisement
The above picture is an advertisement promoting HSBC personal loans operating within the corporate function combined with the viewer’s understanding of the advertising image; the implication is that by purchasing a HSBC loan the viewer will be able to aspire to the lifestyle afforded to the couple in the picture. This is a positive life image built around the following components:
A man and woman presented as an attractive couple, a white man aged around his mid to late 20s smiling in a relaxed manner sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Appearing to be the driver is a similarly aged black woman who is also smiling whilst gesturing in a relaxed manner. This part of the picture shows a young couple engaged in an equal and diverse relationship seemingly in the ascendance of their contemporary lives together.
The couple are driving in a bright yellow car itself a classic-style design yet everyday type of vehicle adding the elements of normality, authenticity and nostalgia. The car is carrying suitcases which are again authentic old style suitcases and the couple are driving through a bright summer rural country landscape seemingly on their way to some sort of a holiday or getaway break seemingly without a care in the world on their way to enjoy the fruits of their aspirational lifestyle and great decision which was to acquire a HSBC loan.
The picture avoids any hint of a summer’s day at the beach as this might appear self -indulgent of the couple or even imply laziness. In this picture we are presented with the couple driving through a rural landscape adding agricultural connotations implying that whilst they may be relaxed they are embarking on a journey that they have earned and is the product of their hard work.
The picture naturally utilises all of the stereotypes created by dominant western ideologies of capitalism and materialism of what constitutes being relaxed young authentic yet happy, carefree, attractive and successful.