An image is a representation of an idea in the form of a picture, photograph or other graphic that communicates a wide range of information depending on the recipients interpretation, capabilities, and perceptions. Thus, image analysis allows to deduce useful information. Various ideas can be communicated globally with the widespread use of media and images constantly available for interpretation. It is true that people use images to convey how they feel as well as to gain knowledge (Cartwright & Sturken, 2009). These activities have been exploited in the educational sector through the use of images and pictures together with text in children textbooks to foster their learning.
In 2015, Bansky painted a mural graphic of Steve Jobs and named it The Son of a Migrant from Syria. This was a form of protest against the asylum denied to African, Western and Southern Asian refugees during the migration crisis in Europe. Despite being a foreigner in the United States of America and having his roots in the Middle East, Steve Jobs became the co-founder of Apple Inc., among other successful companies. Banskys aim was to show that migrants were not the reason for the national depletion of resources and that something good could come out of taking care of them.
In this painting, Bansky depicted Jobs with a sack of clothes on his left shoulder and an old, seemingly heavy computer in his right hand. He looks wearied wearing his black polo shirt, blue jeans, white shoes and round spectacles. The artist leaves audience to imagine what agony the man could possibly be going through. In addition, Bansky makes his message clear using an inscription on the wall around Jobs computer in capital letters: FREE SYRIA. The wall above and to the right of Jobs head is not smooth and is tainted by what looks like bullet holes, probably the artists impression, or actual bullets aimed at The Son of a Migrant from Syria.
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In analyzing this image, Pavel Zemlianskys elements of persuasion, Molly Bangs principles of gravity and Sturken and Cartrights ideas about ideology are considered (Bang, 1991). Pavel Zemliansky in his article Literacy Is not just in Words Anymore explains that images have a directive purpose in them. This fact can be clearly seen in the way Bansky uses his image. According to him, Steve Jobs invention had brought more good than harm as the Apple Company is one of the most profitable firms not only in Europe but also worldwide. Hence, his message to those fighting the refugees is that they could be sending away the next founder of as profitable a company as Apple.
Another step in visual text reading, according to Zemliansky (2010), is to look at the setting and the context in use. This is the circumstance that the image implies at and by which it is interpreted by the audience. Steve Jobs is a well-known, widely recognized and successful personality and an image showing him carrying his luggage looking like a refugee definitely demands a lot of attention from the audience. Steve Jobs was a biological son of Abdulfattah Jandali, a migrant from Homs, Syria, who met Jobs mother while studying at the University of Wisconsin. A few months after he was born, Jobs was adopted by a couple from California who brought him up (Isaacson, 2011). Given Jobs background first as the son of an immigrant and then being brought up by guardians rather than his biological parents, this image certainly depicts his prudency and care for humanity. In the time of dire need, irrespective of his geographical or ethnic origin, he is still a representative of his nation.
Zemliansky explains visual literacy in rhetorical appeal which is the way language and images are used to persuade. It consists of two elements, namely logic and emotions (Lowe & Zemliansky, 2010). If Bansky chose any other unknown foreigner, then the people would not have believed the possible benefits the refugees can bring in the future. Therefore, he used an image of the well-known and already established company founder and a job creator for that matter. The emotional aspect is then brought by the way Steve Jobs looks overburdened by his heavy load of clothes as well as his computer. It is striking that such a rich man would be going through such an ordeal.
Bangs 10 principles on pictures and gravity are seen in Branskys image (Bang, 1991). Steve Jobs is centrally placed within the painting, and thus he draws all the attention of the audience. At the same time, the painting is darkened with black shades on the wall giving a terrifying and a dull look. Darker colors give a sense of fear and insecurity while bright images cause a feeling of security. It is clear that the refugees are going through the terrifying moments of uncertainty and feel very insecure. According to Bang (1991), peoples responses are affected by the force of gravity. The image of Steve Jobs shows that the computer he is carrying is placed near the ground as compared to the bag of clothes he is carrying on his shoulder. This difference signifies that the next big business may never have been invented if the refugees were to be sent away or not taken care of. The computer looks more abandoned, heavier and more threatened in its position as compared to the sack of clothes.
Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright both stress the importance of visual media in the communication of ideas and information. They focus on the images and ideologies in explaining how people think and believe in their culture (Cartwright & Sturken, 2009). The targeted audience clearly believes in wealth and people who have a significant impact on their society through creating a positive change (Melzer & Coxwell-Teague, 2011). Despite Bankys brilliant effort to raise awareness and lobby through artwork, he fails to reflect the opposite side of the situation - the realistic capability of Europe as a region to accommodate such a large number of migrants (Banulescu-Bogdan & Fratzke, 2015).
All in all, the migration of the refugees to Europe posed the threat of poor living conditions to many of Europes legal residents. In addition, certainly, not all the migrants will eventually become the Steve Jobs in the future. The strain they are causing to Europes resources may seem burdensome. However, a combination of art and research could be an essential tool in providing conditions for refugees and eventually finding ways to solve their problems.