Monday, 14 October 2013


At the end of the session we were asked to analyse a piece of visual communication using Shannon and Weaver's 'Transmission model of Communication'.

I chose to look at the politically charged image displayed below;

OBEY EYE CANVAS - Shepard Fairey - Mixed Media Piece.


The piece I chose to focus on is a mixed media canvas and poster design created by graffiti artist Shepard Fairey. The work takes two different forms, a fine art canvas piece and poster reproductions. The canvas was originally created by Fairey and later, poster reproductions of the piece were created to disseminate the message to the masses.

Fairey is an independent artist and therefore the information communicated by the piece is a personal opinion. Consequently, when assessing the piece using Shannon & Weaver’s communication model the ‘information source’ can be defined as Fairey’s personal, politically charged opinion. Moreover, using the same diagram we can also evidence that Fairey is the ‘transmitter’ of the work, as he has arranged the message into an appropriate visual form.

The outcome, referred to as the ‘channel’ in Shannon & Weaver’s model, uses a mixture of visual imagery and type to communicate the thought provoking message. The concept of the piece is based around provoking the audience into questioning their own realities, making them think for themselves. Utilizing the words ‘Never trust your own eyes, believe what you are told’ Fairey also comments on the ignorance of people who believe the propagandist disinformation often communicated by mainstream media outlets. Furthermore, this concept is built upon with Fairey’s use of red, a colour that is often associated with revolutions such as the Russian uprising in 1917. The use of the colour helps give context to the political message Fairey is aiming to communicate. To help capture the audience’s attention and successfully deliver the message Fairey has made the piece aesthetically engaging, exploiting symmetry, semiotics and lineage to draw the viewer in.

The piece was produced in both poster and canvas form, this decision relates to the ‘receiver’ a term found within Shannon and Weaver’s communication model. The term ‘Receiver’ relates to anyone who visually perceives the work, this can be affected by problems regarding the distribution of the piece, location and visual limitations. Fairey attempts to overcome these problems by exposing his work to as many people as he can, which explains his choice of two forms. The poster can be reproduced and distributed with ease, which helps Fairey’s message reach the masses. On the other hand, the canvas becomes part of an art show, is advertised by the auction house and eventually sold to a private investor.

Finally, the Sharron & Weaver communication model finishes with the ‘Destination’, or in terms of design the target audience. In this case the target audience is main stream society, Fairey aims to make a difference by producing politically charged art aimed at provoking people to wake up to the realities of the world. He aims to inform the audience by communicating his message through mainstream channels such as the poster, canvases and large scale mural pieces. Fairey utilizes these various forms to maximise his works public exposure, something that is essential to the success of his work.

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