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Cultural Power of Images in Society

As an old English saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. This adage is probably truer than ever in the contemporary world. Images do not only make complex concepts simpler, but they can make both complex and simple ideas more interesting and attractive. Among other things, modern visual culture is different from previous tendencies, because it often aims at visualizing “things that are not in themselves visual” (Mirzoeff, 2002, p. 6). Visual images are also mixed into other types of mass media: for example, books are often illuminated or illustrated (Waler & Chaplin, 1997, p. 24). It is impossible to imagine modern culture without its visual aspect, since images are used in all areas of life: education, work, art, etc.

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Visualisation has become such an important part of people’s lives, that many of them are now paying more attention to documenting all their experiences than to actually remembering them. Studies on the influence of photographing on memory have shown that “the act of photographing the object appears to enable people to dismiss the object from memory, thereby relying on the external device of the camera to ‘remember’ for them” (Ambrosino, 2018, para. 19). Therefore, despite all the advantages of pictures and other visual means of expression, they can also do harm when one relies on them too much.

Thinking that creating pictures is a way to remember all their experiences, people focus on taking photos or videos of objects or events that are significant to them. However, being distracted by what is the right camera angle and how the light works in the picture, they can fail to truly enjoy and appreciate the memorable moment they are experiencing (Ambrosino, 2018, para. 13). It is important to remember that pictures can and should be enjoyed, but also that relying on them too much can prevent people from actually being present in the most important moments of their lives.

References

Ambrosino, B. (2018). Smartphones and our memories: Don’t take a picture. It’ll last longer​. Web.

Mirzoeff, N. (2002). The visual culture reader. London: Psychology Press.

Walker, J. A., & Chaplin, S. (1997). Visual culture: An introduction. Manchester University Press.

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