The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Icon of Society


     It is a product everyone owns and everyone wants. It has come to embody the technological era in which we are living in the 21st century. It has completely revolutionized the way we consume and listen to music. You probably own one yourself. They have gone from simple storage devices for music got smaller, got video, and then got a touch screen and Wi-Fi. It is even comes in a phone version. This product is of course the iPod. Every year Steve Jobs revels a new iteration of the iPod. It seems to happen almost instantly after this product is held in Steve Jobs’s hands; it ends up in the hands of millions of others. The image of Jobs holding his creations has become an icon of the technological age in which we are living. It represents a piece of this age that we all own, something we are all a part of.
     Every year a new version of the iPod is unveiled by Jobs. There have been many pictures and many iPods. But, the pictures all look similar for one reason. In No Caption Needed, Hariman and Lucaites talk about the aesthetic properties of iconic photographs, more specifically civic performance. They remark the importance of the stylistic features of the subject in the photo and “especially of the distinctive gesture” (Hariman & Lucaites 31)  Every year jobs uses the same gesture, casually holding the new iPod in his hands with a big smile as he shows his new invention to the world. He is also always wearing his distinctive clothing brandishing his distinct look. Most are familiar with his gray scruff, glasses and black long sleeved shirt. It becomes iconic because of this repeat of this act, repeated behavior. It represents the “twice- behaved” and it is “established through habitation or drill” to create this iconic status. (32) Through all of this, a pattern has been made, creating an iconic status every time this action is repeated. This gesture has grown to represent the civic performance of the image of jobs hold his new creations.
     The image of the iPod is not only a statement and an icon of gesture; it’s also a very social image. Almost everyone in the United States either knows what an iPod is or owns an iPod, so everyone can relate to this. Oftentimes people are buzzing about the new iPod and how they NEED to have it. People even camped out in front of the apple store for the release of the iPhone. The iPod is a social phenomenon, something people relate to. In No Caption needed it is stated that an image “will have to contain social coding if it is to have any meaning” (34) In this image, the social coding of technology is easily observed. This image can, and does, represent the role of technology in our society.
     This image can mean many different things to different people. Nonetheless it has become an icon. It represents the technological age in which we are living. Socially, it represents a craze, something everyone must have and that most people do. Future generations can glance at this photo and see into our culture of always looking for the new thing, the next technology. It is a great depiction of the social consumerism that is so prominent in the modern American society.
- Travis Ormsby

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