20 December – Joost Schilperoord

The rhetorical uses of depictions of cast shadows

In advertising images and editorial cartoons, shadows are sometimes used to transmit special kinds of meaning. In a campaign for the children’s Toy blocks Lego we see very simple block structures casting shadows of T-rexes, planes, army tanks and other bog stars of the child’s imagination. These kinds of incongruent shadows – an object cannot cast the shadow of another object – visually inform viewers about what the depicted objects ‘truly’ are, at least in the fictive world of child-play. The same template, have object X cast object Y’s shadow, can be seen in editorial cartoons, where it is used for the same revelatory potential. In this talk I will give some historical ‘background’ for these kinds of shadows. In addition, some other types of incongruent shadows will be demonstrated. In the 2nd part of the talk I present data from a recent experiment in which we compared shadow-based combinations of two objects ( a set of Lego blocks and a T-rex, for example) with the well-known template of juxtaposing two objects, especially with regard to the meaning construal effects of these two templates. We hypothesized what while the juxtaposition-template evokes metaphorical meanings with regard to the depicted objects, the experienced relation between them in caster-shadow visualizations will be much stronger. Our data appear to confirm this hypothesis.

Potgieterszaal, University Library
Singel 421-427
1012 WP Amsterdam