Distinctively Visual

May 23, 2018 Music

Distinctively visual texts allow the responder to clearly understand the perspective of the composer. How have two of the stories of Henry Lawson, and the film Punctured by Baker and Klein, allowed you to understand the composer’s perspective through distinctively visual techniques? Composers employ various techniques to create distinctively visual texts which enable responders to clearly imagine, form meaning and understand a composer’s unique perspective.

Henry Lawson’s short stories ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘In A Dry Season’ realistically brings to life images of isolation and hardship in the Australian bush, Armin Geder’s picture book ‘The Island’ illustrates the alienation of a foreigner on a xenophobic island; and Nick Baker and Tristian Klein’s film ‘Punctured’ use similar distinctively visual qualities to exhibit images of loneliness.

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The aforementioned composers enable readers to envisage realistic themes of life and and understand their purpose through distinctively visual techniques. Lawson uses distinctively visual techniques to portray the harshness of the Australian bush environment. In ‘The Drover’s Wife’, Lawson describes the bush in negative overtones with nothing to alleviate its bleakness ‘stunted, rotten native apple trees’, ‘waterless creek’, ‘everlasting, maddening sameness. ’ This is reinforced in “bush with no horizon… no ranges…no undergrowth.

Through cumulated negation and repetition of ‘no’ Lawson paints an uninviting and sparse setting for the story. Likewise, Lawson perpetuates the same idea in his ‘In a Dry Season. ’ Lawson engages the reader immediately through the use of second person ‘you’ll’ and the imperatives ‘Draw’ and ‘add’ in the accumulation of images ‘Draw a wire fence and a few ragged gums, and add some scattered sheep away from the train. ’ This allows the audience to participate in recreating the bush setting.

The narrator’s negative impressions of the outback is evident in the stoic tone ‘the least horrible spot in the bush, in a dry season’ being where it has been cleared away and the understatement ‘narrow muddy gutter’ to describe the Macquarie River during a dry season. The distinctively visual sketch offers to readers an imaginary insight of the difficult experiences present in Australia’s outback. Greder employs a distinctively visual style to create an unwelcoming and threatening environment in ‘The Island’.

The cover depicts a large dark grey fortress which occupies almost the entire page, the salient image and straight lines which compose it suggest its exclusivity, this contributes to a daunting atmosphere. The fourth page spread depicts a mob of all-male islanders holding long farming implements pointed in the direction of the foreigner. This action forms a vector conveying their irrational contempt for the foreigner. Moreover, the islanders form the salient image, overpowering the foreigner, indicated by his relatively small size.

This positions the viewer to empathise with the foreigner as he is victimized by the mob. On the sixth page spread, the image of a woman screaming is a parody of Edward Munch’s The Scream. This is accompanied by the text “Then one morning, the man appeared in town”. The hyperbole of the fear expressed by the woman criticises the islanders’ reaction to the foreigner. In a distinctively visual manner, Greder enables his readers to envisage the xenophobia of the islanders and understand the difficult experience of the foreigner as he is alienated by the dominant cultural society.

In ‘The Drover’s Wife’ Lawson’s description of the drover’s wife and her children helps us to see the effect of the harsh environment on the people who live there. We are shown “four ragged, dried up looking children” and a “gaunt, sun-browned bush woman” The lexical chain of the cumulated adjectives and compound make us picture their malnourishment and poverty, but also shows us the physical impact of the harsh environment on their bodies. The Drover’s wife reflects on the challenges she has to face while her husband is absent.

This is specifically seen in the anecdote, “She fought a bush-fire once while her husband was away…She put on an old pair of her husband’s trousers and beat out the flames…” The wife wearing her “husband’s trousers” depicts her as the ‘man’ in this situation fighting the bushfire; this is accentuated with the use of personification in “till great drops of sooty perspiration stood out on her forehead and ran in streaks down her blackened arms. ” The far from womanly character of the Drover’s wife and her sweaty and darkened appearance is a result of the hardships she has been forced to experience without the support of a husband.

Through distinctively visual techniques, Lawson causes readers to envisage and understand the difficult and inescapable experience of living in the bush. Lawson continues to illustrate the inescapable reality of the Australian bush in the story ‘In a Dry Season’. Lawson’s use of colloquial language and idiomatic expression such as ‘he was a bit of a scrapper’ and ‘dressed in all his glory’ impresses readers to partake in the experience of travelling on a train and travellers with the narrator.

Adjectives used to describe the clothing of various men on the train such as ‘slop-sac’ and ‘old fashioned’ is indicative of their low socio-economic status and the repetition of the Australian slang “Yer wanter …” adds realism to the dialogue and simplistic nature of these bushmen. The ironic statement ‘Death is about the only cheerful thing in the bush’ indicates that there is nothing positive about the outback existence. Through distinctively visual techniques, Lawson causes readers to envisage and understand the difficult and inescapable experience of living in the bush.

Baker and Klein’s ‘Punctured’ illustrate the impact a repetitive and desolate environment can have on an individual’s emotions. The crane shot of grey buildings in the opening scene and the murky grey colour of the sky creates a sullen and dark atmosphere indicating that the story is set in a dystopian world. The use of instrumental piano music in the background evokes the audience to feel pity for the protagonist as he experiences rejection and loneliness.

The motif of Time reoccurs throughout the film and the audience is constantly aware that time is ticking. The close up shot of the digital clock in the opening sequence of the film foregrounds in the audience’s mind the importance of time. This is reinforced with the close up shots of the analogue clock at ‘Puncture Inc. ’ ticking away symbolic of routine and the mundane. In a distinctively visual manner, Baker and Klein invokes readers to envisage and understand the lonely and mundane experience of life in a dystopian world.

The distinctively visual representation in ‘Punctured’ imprints in reader’s minds the set environment and consequently reinforces an in-depth understanding of the characters’ difficult experiences. Composers create distinctively visual texts to deliver candid perspectives of life with images of hardship and isolation. Henry Lawson’s short stories ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘In A Dry Season’, Armin Greder’s picture book ‘The Island’ and Nick Baker and Tristian Klein’s film ‘Punctured’ all convey the same purpose to their audience in a distinctively visual manner.


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