Term of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Art

Committee Chair

Santanu Majumdar

Committee Member 1

Onyile B. Onyile

Committee Member 2

Marc Moulton

Committee Member 3

Derek Larson

Abstract

Eleven Bullets: A Counter Assault on Subjectivity and the Creation of Visual Meaning explores the sources of visual meaning as a combination of shared personal experience among the mass audience and the perpetuation of this meaning via popular cultural applications. It proposes that the analysis of an artist’s personal experience with sensory perception is the foundation for his or her ability to instill meaning within a design. By understanding how we make associations with experiences that are pleasurable, painful, safe, dangerous, passive, aggressive etc., we organize our world according to visual stereotypes. These stereotypes help us navigate the world efficiently and safely. They also directly influence our instinctual responses to visual stimuli.

The artworks in this thesis are designed to use the same inherent meanings within the visual elements to communicate with two polar audiences, liberal & conservative. This is accomplished not by changing the inherent meaning of the element, but by positioning it in different ratios and contexts to appeal to the unique sensibilities of the work’s targeted audience. It argues against the changing or denying the presence of meaning, a practice I believe to be detrimental to all aspects of communication, and instead advocates for teaching competency and responsibility in the manipulation of these elements to communicate.

The works utilizes gun control propaganda for the purpose of content only. It is not the goal of this thesis to advocate for any particular stance or policy but rather to demonstrate that a singular visual lexicon can be effective in creating meaning across a variety of audiences, even those fundamentally opposed to one another.

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