Digital Art and Multimodal Argumentation in Ads

Digital image-making (especially visual compositing) has gained much ground in print advertising over the last two decades. Such fast technological progress raises interesting questions about the rhetorical potential of these new types of images. Is it true that novel ways of image-making facilitate novel ideas and novel ways of persuasion? Has the field of advertising really been revolutionized by what some call a ’new medium‘?

What do yo see: fields/farm buildings or elements on a circuit board?
(Volkswagen Amarok V6 4×4, Geometry, Buenos Aires – Lürzer’s Archive 2/2019, p. 19)

Based on a small corpus of about 100 recent print ads sampled in Lürzer’s International Archive (vol. 3 & 4/2019) for their ingenuity and high quality, I have developed a classification of design operations that underlie visual compositing. These are pictorial manipulations of various kinds that involve changes to visual image elements, combinations of elements, entire images or typography, and 3-D-modeled scenarios, real and fictitious. The annotated corpus provides answers to a number of concomitant questions: What are the rhetorical potentials of the different design operations? What types of arguments do they help construct? What relational propositions are set up by the linking of text and image?

I will be presenting some of the results of my analyses and my thoughts on the matter of digital art in advertising at BreMM4, which my colleagues in Bremen (+ Janina WILDFEUER, Groningen & Jana PFLAEGING, Salzburg) have been organizing.

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