Today President Barack Obama was inaugurated for a second term, and many people around the world experienced this event through a wide range of images. As always, there are many angles to consider. Have you ever switched between different channels covering the same occasion to see how different each can look, even when they are showing almost the same exact image? Even without changing the source, note how colors, skin tones, and effects of light can change when cutting from a wide shot to a close-up. It certainly helps to understand cinematography to comprehend how the choices made during production affect what we see and how we interpret it. Now, the images that record this ceremony are available to be seen immediately on the Internet, and the different aspects of the event are instantly being further scrutinized, dissected, and evaluated, from President Obama’s speech to Richard Blanco’s poem to Beyoncé’s rousing rendition of the national anthem to Michelle Obama’s new hairstyle.
Here are some links that are interesting to check out: first, an ABC interview with poet Richard Blanco. The interview should also be looked at by scrutinizing the total content of the image: that in addition to the interview with Blanco we are looking at a screen made up of many things going on at once. Why? How does that affect our understanding of the information, our processing of the visuals, and its aesthetic impact? Of course, there is also Beyoncé singing the national anthem. Finally, considering one of the key moments of President Obama’s speech when he made reference to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his holiday, here is a link to Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.’s August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington.
Postscript: Okay, so the Marines spilt the beans: Beyoncé was lip-syncing. Good old pitch adjusters. So does anyone else want any more “Wizard of Oz” moments here or lessons in “what you think you see is not necessarily what you get?”