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Visual Metaphors Essay Sample

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Visual Metaphors Essay Sample

Metaphors are a type of figure of speech where there is an indirect comparison between two unlike things that have certain points or characteristics in common (Nordquist). Taking Harvey Blume’s “Subtle Mechanisms” into consideration, he takes metaphors, similes and analogies but, as the name implies, uses it in a sense that appeals to the visual sense. Blume talks of metaphors in terms of art where one creates art that would be likened to a certain object or idea, hence, it is visually perceived and processed as one would process a metaphor.

            An example of a visual metaphor that Blume mentioned includes Jacques de Vaucanson’s duck which “acts” as a duck would, and offered both simple and profound thoughts (Blume, 1998). It could “swim, swallow and produce excrement.” It could perform actions that would be identified as actions of the real animal as well as quack. Later on, Jean Baudrillard applied a philosophical view on Vaucanson’s work through “Simulations,” describing it as the “analogy of man and… his interlocutor.” This view challenged the line drawn between mechanism and organism, with humans as living things and would be God’s “finest clocks” performing as a more advanced version of Vaucanson’s duck.

As for Ganson’s work, they were more of abstract ideas than simple living things. His work stands for a wide array of feelings as well as encapsulating the essence of certain concepts into his moving art and gives it a profound sense. Take “Child Watching Ball” for example, it shows not only the action of such a task, but also how a child really would be concentrating, never wanting to miss a beat or break contact. This moving art shows Ganson’s purpose or focus “to transform machines into narrative, to show how much narrative power they have inside them, how they can tell stories.”


  • Blume, H. (1998, August 13). Subtle Mechanisms. Retrieved May 4, 2010, from The Atlantic Online website: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/criticaleye/ce980813.htm
  • Nordquist, R. (n.d.). Metaphor. Retrieved May 4, 2010 from About.com website: http://grammar.about.com/od/mo/g/metaphorterm.htm

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