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Analysis of Discourses Encompassing the 'Migrant Mother' Picture
Unformatted Document Text:  14 picture is placed in the middle of displayed photographs. The caption says, “Migrant Mother and Children, California.” There is no more information about the picture. There is no text. By being presented within a context of art, as well as documentary, aesthetic concerns are emphasized. Here, the picture is an aesthetic object which should be appreciated as it is. Its meaning is open to interpretation by the viewers. By being presented within a realm of art, its aesthetic aspects are more carefully considered. 5. Discussion This study examines how the meaning of the Migrant Mother picture is altered by its internal and external contexts when it is represented in four different genres – photojournalism, documentary photography, government public relations, and art photography. Putting these various uses of the Migrant Mother picture in four genres together, the Migrant Mother picture was differently represented according to its accompanying texts and other photographs -- as plight of migrant workers suffering from poverty, as a symbol of the strong will of migrant workers, as a symbol of people who need public aid, or as a symbol of people who worry about the future of America. It is clear that the specific meaning of an image is influenced by its accompanying verbal text. In addition, it is found that the photographic image is influenced by its external context as well as its internal context. The presenting agency of a photograph, however, influenced how the photograph is accepted by viewers, rather than altering the specific meaning of the photographic image. When it was presented in a realm of art, the Migrant Mother picture became an aesthetic object that its aesthetic aspects should be contemplated. In art exhibits, in which there are just captions, no texts, the meanings of photographs are open to viewers. In addition, the practice of placing a photograph within the bounds of the aesthetic realm demands contemplation of the aesthetic aspects of the photographic image rather than deep consideration of the meaning. When it was presented in newspapers and magazines, the Migrant Mother picture was viewed as a photograph having a news value. That is, the Migrant Mother photograph was used as an illustration to describe the then current situation or issue. In the documentary book, the Migrant Mother picture was presented in the middle of a narrative flow. The picture was viewed as a realistic document which aids narrative unfolding. However, because of its good print quality and display format, the aesthetic aspects of the Migrant Mother picture are also considered. In government-sponsored exhibits, the Migrant Mother picture was also viewed as a realistic document in the middle of a

Authors: Choi, Hyunju.
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background image
14
picture is placed in the middle of displayed photographs. The caption says, “Migrant
Mother and Children, California.” There is no more information about the picture. There is
no text. By being presented within a context of art, as well as documentary, aesthetic
concerns are emphasized. Here, the picture is an aesthetic object which should be
appreciated as it is. Its meaning is open to interpretation by the viewers. By being
presented within a realm of art, its aesthetic aspects are more carefully considered.
5. Discussion
This study examines how the meaning of the Migrant Mother picture is altered by
its internal and external contexts when it is represented in four different genres –
photojournalism, documentary photography, government public relations, and art
photography.
Putting these various uses of the Migrant Mother picture in four genres together,
the Migrant Mother picture was differently represented according to its accompanying
texts and other photographs -- as plight of migrant workers suffering from poverty, as a
symbol of the strong will of migrant workers, as a symbol of people who need public aid,
or as a symbol of people who worry about the future of America. It is clear that the specific
meaning of an image is influenced by its accompanying verbal text.
In addition, it is found that the photographic image is influenced by its external
context as well as its internal context. The presenting agency of a photograph, however,
influenced how the photograph is accepted by viewers, rather than altering the specific
meaning of the photographic image. When it was presented in a realm of art, the Migrant
Mother picture became an aesthetic object that its aesthetic aspects should be contemplated.
In art exhibits, in which there are just captions, no texts, the meanings of photographs are
open to viewers. In addition, the practice of placing a photograph within the bounds of the
aesthetic realm demands contemplation of the aesthetic aspects of the photographic image
rather than deep consideration of the meaning.
When it was presented in newspapers and magazines, the Migrant Mother picture
was viewed as a photograph having a news value. That is, the Migrant Mother photograph
was used as an illustration to describe the then current situation or issue. In the
documentary book, the Migrant Mother picture was presented in the middle of a narrative
flow. The picture was viewed as a realistic document which aids narrative unfolding.
However, because of its good print quality and display format, the aesthetic aspects of the
Migrant Mother picture are also considered. In government-sponsored exhibits, the
Migrant Mother picture was also viewed as a realistic document in the middle of a


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