SPEECH- Module A- Distinctively Visual-Pooja Darji
Question: You are presenting a speech to a group of talented year 12 writers at the Sydney Literary Conference. You have been asked to examine how the uses of distinctively image create interest and draw us into the experiences of others.
Good Afternoon Year 12.
In today’s conference I will examine the uses of distinctively visual images which create interest and draw the audiences into the experiences of others. During the conference I will refer to the play “The Shoe-Horn Sonata” (SHS) by John Misto which utilises distinctively visual techniques to convey the experience of terror and cruelty endured by the WWII prisoners of women camp.
John Misto also uses visual techniques in the need to uncover the truth Sheila is hiding from Bridie. “One Minute’s Silence” (OMS), a picture book by David Metzenthen and illustrations by Michael Camilleri correspondingly uses distinct visuals to portray the experiences of the ANZAC and the Turkish troops who fought with honour on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Together these texts engage the audience in the experiences and situations faced during the war by the characters through the distinctively visual techniques which shape and determine the response of the audience.
So, what provokes distinctive images?
In SHS, John Misto uses character and object positioning in extremely detailed manner. Misto has worked towards giving the audience very detailed stage directions to portray the intended moods and feelings he has in mind for the characters and their revelations. Misto has even specified the tone and delivery of the lines and the audiences are given a clear indication of the emotions the composer wishes the audience to respond to. Directions such as ‘raising her hands, clapping them twice sternly’ (Act1 Scene1) lets the audience visualise the exact power and authority exerted by the Japs during the war. It helps to drive the audiences focus on the actions and emotions of the characters’ which deepens character and audience relationship.
The direction ‘with concern and feeling threatened’ (Act 1 Scene 8) shares the emotions of the protagonist, Bridie, with the audience which draws the audience in to the experience and emotions that Bridie feels. In this scene the emotions and actions performed by Bridie contrast her personality in the previous scenes. Bridie is originally more confident, ignorant and judgemental but as the play progresses in scene eight and the ‘truth’ is being revealed the audience starts to notice her being uptight, shocked and frightened. This technique further aids in building up dramatic tension and suspense for the audience.
Similarly, OMS depict a class of school children observing ‘one minute of silence’ and imagining themselves into the conflict, Camilleri has invited young readers to consider all sides of the ionic battle at Gallipoli. He has used character and object positioning very distinctively by placing the focal point of each image on the right-hand or bottom of the page. He has kept strictly to a sense of direction. This is particularly because western readers tend to read from left to right and top to bottom. This is clearly and visually defined on pages 6-7 in which the focal point of the illustration is on the right of the page.
It is drawn with detail presenting a stunned expression of one of the school children in the situation of war. The background also adds to the effect showing soldiers running towards the right of the page and another school boy with a similar expression. Camilleri’s consideration of his readers highlights how he has created interest which draws the audience into the experiences of war.
Lighting is a powerful visual technique used by Misto to create interest and draw audience into the experiences of others.
In SHS lighting is used as a device to create atmosphere between characters and audience. The very beginning of the play is a perfect example of this. The directions read: ‘darkness. Out of the silence comes the voice of Bridie.’
And after the first line of dialogue, a spotlight suddenly illuminates Bridie. This use of light and dark creates atmosphere and focuses the audience’s attention on both the character and what is being said in a compelling manner. As the lighting on stage gradually rises the audience slowly become aware of an ‘on air’ sign. Thus, the setting for much of the play, a television studio, is also firmly established in its first few moments. Spotlighting, blackouts and fadeouts are all used for effect throughout the play.
A counterpoint to the bluntness of the opening scene can be found in the closing scene of the play. As Bridie and Sheila dance, symbolising their ultimate reconciliation and reaffirmation of friendship after 50 long years, the lights fade on them, however a ‘very bright spotlight’ that highlights the shoehorn, one of the motifs in the play, remains. It represents a reaffirmation of the friendship between the two women, and a wiping out of the pain and suffering they have both felt even after the war had ended. In the end the shoe-horn comes to symbolise, perhaps as much as the dance the two women do, a resolution and a genuine end to the psychological trauma the war created.
Likewise, in OMS shades of black and white are used to tone and emphasise the dreadful situations and highlight specific spots. There is hardly any suggestion of colour at all. This relates to the idea of exploring the past, and to the tragic nature of the story that the illustrations depict. Characters are sketched dark and dull in tone which contrasts with the background which is white on most pages. This sort of lighting symbolises the horrific situations faced during the war for the audience bringing them into the experience. It particulates people and land showing it’s the people that the war has affected the most and not so much the land.
Camilleri has used crosshatching technique to sketch the illustrations in the entire book which add to show the reality of destruction, conflict and sacrifices made during the war.
Pages 30 and 31 are sketched black using the same crosshatching technique. This makes the words on the page stand alone. They seem to be speaking the message of the entire book. The message reads- ‘But can you imagine the fierce Anzacs and the fighting Turks quietly returning to their trenches after this one day of truce…then firing at each other that afternoon, although they truly knew that the other men were not so much different after all.
This gives off the same effect as SHS did at the beginning of the play when Bridie’s voice was the only aspect that linked the audience and the character. Similarly, it is the words on pages 30 and 31 that link the audience to the situation and experience.
Consequently, it can be clarified that distinctively visual images contribute in creating and drawing the audience into experiences of others. This is clearly seen in the play Shoe-Horn Sonata and the picture book One Minute’s Silence. These texts engage the audience in the experiences and situations faced by the characters using distinctively visual techniques such as character and object positioning and lighting.