Free «Critical Analysis of a Picture» Essay Sample
A well taken picture has a thousand meanings. In this case, a Christmas picture taken at night means more than what one can see with the naked eye. The picture being analyzed in this paper depicts two houses surrounded by a fence; there are trees outside the houses near the gates. The most visible objects in the picture are strings of glittering lights that are present on the fence, the houses, the balconies as well as on the walls. The lights are twinkling with white colors, thus creating aesthetic scenery. The houses are located near a highway; hence, passers-by can easily see them. There is also a pavement on the side of the road where passengers and cyclists can pass. The white glittering lights enhance the visibility of the picture creating a spectacle. There is an electric post on the right side of the picture with a car side mirror in the foreground, which marks the position from where the picture was taken. A keen look at the picture also reveals dolls or objects that resemble human beings and Santa Claus that mark Christmas celebration.
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Clearly, the picture denotes Christmas celebration. Normally, one may witness such scenes during the Christmas season all over the world. Although the lights may be used to signify something different or enhance the visibility of the buildings, the setting denotes the Christmas setting that is common in city centers during the season. The decorations may be seen as a way of attracting the attention of motorists and pedestrians. I took the picture from a moving car. This is the reason why the rear mirror of the car is visible from the position of the camera.
The decorations in the photo may have been used to enhance visibility or as an indication of Christmas celebrations. Moreover, looking at the picture, it is difficult to judge whether the houses are residential places or commercial premises. Hence, the intention of using the glittering Christmas lights may be seen as a way of creating a celebratory mood (Murray 2). It may be the culture or tradition of the residents in the area to use such lights in their houses during the festive season. Therefore, the look at the picture evokes the feeling of Christmas and activities that are associated with it such as installing a Christmas tree and decorating buildings with glittering lights, statuettes and other items.
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In the modern society, Christians all over the world utilize Christmas lights to signify the birth of Jesus Christ. Historically, the twinkling lights decoration has been used for centuries to mark Christmas celebration in shopping malls, town centers and residential houses among other public places. The idea of using twinkling lights was advanced during the early 19th century. They were used to signify unity among the communities. This is because people felt that their unity had been lost as a result of urbanization and industrial revolution (Collins 17). Therefore, the Christmas lights signified friendship and socialization between communities of different ethnic backgrounds. On the religious front, the glittering lights are used to show religious unity as well as integration among people of different social classes. They are also a sign of establishing religious harmony among different denominations in the world. The illuminated trees and houses were seen as a way of bringing people together during the wave of the First and Second World Wars, which brought the need to bring communities together. Therefore, the modern lighted Christmas trees and houses popularly signify the unity not only of Christians but of all the people in the world. The use of twinkling lights during Christmas celebration spread all over the world with differentiated and changed meanings. The lights are now not only used to mean Christ’s birth but also for outdoor displays and to create a spectacle for the intended audience. Therefore, in cities such as Los Angeles and New York, one will find Christmas lights on buildings and trees; such scenery creates a spectacle for both motorists and pedestrians (Penne 36). During the Christmas season, one will find increasing numbers of popping up lights all over the cities and in residential places specifically meant to mark the festive season.
Brian Murray in his article “Christmas Lights and Community Building in America” traces the tradition of using Christmas lights in America back to the end of the 18th Century. The custom began with the use of candles which advanced towards the beginning of the 19th century to the use of strings of lights for Christmas decorations. Murray argues that although these lights are used all over the world, most people do not understand their meaning or the tradition associated with them. He argues that ‘Christmas lights’ was a generic term used to describe the strings of lights that were used in America for decoration to mark the winter season (Murray 2). He states that this tradition resulted from a variety of secular winter seasons. He stresses that the use of Christmas lights to mark winter holidays had nothing to do with Christians. However, the meaning has changed when people in most cultures began to use Christmas lights to mark the celebration of the birth of Christ. Thus, in modern societies, Christmas lights provide a forum where Christians mark the birth of their savior in both rural and urban areas. Moreover, the multiplication of cultures around the world has given Christmas lights their own meaning and significance.
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In conclusion, the picture analyzed in this case had both visual objects and subjects. The nature of aesthetics displayed in the picture evokes both traditional and modern meaning of Christmas lights. That is because Christmas lights have a deeper cultural significance unknown to the majority of people who use them. In this regard, the custom creates such a spectacle that even the passing motorists feel the urge to capture the scene. The long strings of white twinkling lights around the two houses is a reflection of the visual effect created. As analyzed above, the lights may have been used to signify Christmas celebration as it is the case in the modern world, or they could have been used to create a spectacle for the passers-by. However, the presence of objects that resemble human beings and Santa Claus signify the second meaning of the picture.
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