F21 Core Interaction: Reading Responses
Please post a short reading response (1 sentence comment, reflection, or question about the overarching ideas in the article) that will inform our in class discussion. Reading responses are due at the start of class.

Week 7: In Defense of the Poor Image – Hito Steyerl

I think Hito Steyerl’s viewpoint on poor images was very a refreshing take; often a “poor image” is associated with poor quality and value and I never necessarily saw it that way. The only times in which I did not get any pushback is when I came to school here at Parsons. Here, the idea of intention in ALL aspects of designs was deemed important; therefore, why can’t a poor image provide some insight to a design. We choose to have a more crisp, higher-res, cleaner design because we want to emphasize readability. Why can’t a less crisp, lower-res, “poor-er” design have the opposite affect, one that emphasizes curiosity?

I enjoyed reading Hito Steyerl’s viewpoint on how often times poor images can be a powerful asset instead of high resolution images. I thought it was really interesting how poor images can actually make the viewers intrigued and left thinking to their own imagination to finish the image. I also thought it was captivating when the article mentioned that poor images are now the popular images - how it is the images that can made and seen by the many. I believe this is a really strong point to his perspective as lower resolution images can be shared in a more broader aspect compared to higher resolution images. One question that I have is: When do we know which images are suitable for lower resolutions and vice versa? How can we know lower resolutions can make the image stronger? Why? 

Hito Steyerl’s article offers an insight to “poor image” in a way that I’ve never seen it before. We are all, in some ways, repulsed by poor quality images floating about the internet amidst the cacophony of digital media. I have never questioned why until I read this article, where Steyerl discusses how poor images are associated with reality, life in motion; a proletarian in a society where images are ranked and valued according to its resolution. It reinforces my belief that everything is political, and the rapid spread of poor images of various natures on the internet highlights just that. A question I have is: How has the perception of poor images evolve over the years, and how has it been gentrified by brands? 

I found this week’s reading quite intriguing. I’ve never thought about image quality this way before or that it could be poetic? And the way it was written made it a lot easier to keep reading. I found Steyerl’s point about balancing the shareability and quality of the image very thought provoking. And how the lower quality which means it’s been shared and reformatted many times shows how many people cared about it enough to do so. Image quality can mean so many different things under different circumstances.

There are many distinct perspectives of the definition of “poor image” in Hito Steyerl’s “In Defense of the Poor Image.” He talks about the origins and causes behind poor images in a straightforward or harsh(many critical points and attitudes) tone. At vert last line, “In short, it is about reality,” Steyerl defines poor images as the former masterpieces traces, embedding or resembling stories. 
I found fascinated by this thought!!!

This reading was very interesting, and aligns with a lot of my thinking regarding the idea of ‘poor images’. The idea of an image being ‘poor’ in terms of quality or content is one that I feel is subjective. An aspect of the reading which stood out to me was the idea of sharing content, which often involves the sharing of these so called ‘poor images’.  This reminded me of pirating, and also how a lot of internet culture is cultivated through the sharing of ‘poor images’ in the forms of memes, gifs, and videos. 

Hito Steyrel’s reading provided so much insight into an aspect of modern culture that is often overlooked: the historical and socio-political values tied to an ever-present element of the  digital age, the image. It is very interesting to consider how the quality of an image can be linked to a larger communal or even populist sentiment. This article made me think about WhatsApp chain images shared amongst my older family members, and the constant regurgitation of images and information that can be both harmless and misleading.

This reading touched on the heavily undervalued topics between image and societal perception. How image quality determines whether or not a photo or film is appreciated or valued is so misunderstood. We tend to give value to the images we can immediately grasp as “beautiful” from face value. We forget that images and videos tell stories that go deeper than their initial appearance. We really do miss out if the only images that are given worth are the ones that had the financial backing to produce it at the most pristine quality in the first place. Some of the most amazing photographs and films were made with little to no budget and without mass acclaim. Value from an image can come from more than its ‘quality’, it’s also how it affects the viewer. Even a pixelated icon or an outdated meme can generate an emotion, which in itself gives it worth.

This reading gave me a new insight on what a poor image is and how it can be perceived  from a different point of view. I would never even pay that much attention to poor quality images but after reading the text I can really see some value in these images. 

I’ve reread the article multiple times but to be frank, I don’t think I completely get it. I did find it interesting to think about how the quality of an image can be indicative of something “more”. 
The way I understood it, the Poor Image is dually indicative of a perverse capitalist culture and a humanist (?) reaction to it. To see the poor image as a result of human connection, the need to constantly share information, moments, opinions, feels like a reclamation of the original high-resolution parent. 

Also I really liked the phrase “own real conditions of existence”. 

To be honest the reading to me is a bit confusing. I get the idea of poor image but I just don't fully understand what's so important about it. But as I read the article it did make me think what we call a poor image now back then was a high resolution image. It's so interesting how technology has advanced. Is it truly a poor image if it once was a best image?

Hito Steyerl’s perspective on poor and rich images is a take I’ve never really considered before. Although there were parts of the text that felt redundant and a bit dense it made me question media accessibility. Prior to the internet a lot of media or “rich” images circulated within small groups dedicated to keeping art inaccessible. Although poor images aren’t
in the likeliness of how the original creator intended it is able to reach a broader audience. One thing that I didn’t quite understand was the idea of “visual bonds”, How are visual bonds a link to the future?

Hito Steyeri’s perspective on the poor image is interesting and made me think about the transformation of an authentic image and how it changes through time and in the process becomes something called a poor image. the bad resolution, lack of quality, and easily-accessible, re-downloaded features of a poor image remind me of how we repurpose media and content in different ways. Today with the advent of social media, the meaning of poor image has changed all together. The fast circulating images are now creating new conversations. Opening up opportunities to understand different perspectives from across the globe. So its functioning as a carrier of loads and loads of metadata through time

What I found to be really interesting about Hito Steyrel’s reflection on poor images was the politics of using such images as well as how the economy of poor quality images can be representative of qualities much deeper than one might interpret i.e. those of “violent dislocation, transferrals, and displacement of images — [and] their acceleration and circulation within the vicious cycles of audiovisual capitalism.” It was also interesting to read about how the legacy of poor images reflects the cultural change in our media consumption, as well as reveals the need for a conversation regarding the social forces driving the need for poor images as well. Overall, I think that through this essay Steyrel reveals a facet of the digital universe that often goes unconsidered and makes a very acute set of observations about poor images that really prompt further thought and consideration.



I think I agree more with the points raised by Butterick. I think type shouldn’t necessarily be invisible as I often find that it is one of the first things which will grab my attention towards something, positively or negatively, but will actually compel me to read what’s being written. Lee’s reading raised a question for me regarding the type design of non-english based languages. Do designers feel compelled to design based on English based concepts (ie. the existence of serifs) in their fonts? 

Firstly, I really enjoy reading Beatrice Warde’s article. He uses a crystal goblet and wine to elude the typography as an invisible container for gorgeous text to show off its virtue. It is such an elegant metaphor. However, I disagree with him. I am standing with Matthew Butterick, “the balloon gives shape and visibility to something that otherwise cannot be seen.” I believe typography and layout are indispensable for conveying the message from the text.

I admired Warde’s thoughts on the power of language and text, as they revealed the significance of typography to communication as a whole. However, Butterick’s helium balloon metaphor does a far better job at explaining how different contexts will necessitate different forms of typography (especially in a digital age with more access to text than ever before). Reading Lee’s article after these two was quite fascinating. If typographers build the vital bridge between the substance of a text and a reader, how has the design world failed to bridge the immense gap that exists between typographers of different languages throughout the world? 

I had mix feelings about Beatrice Warde’s idea about the Crystal Goblet. To an extent, yes, typography should act as a support to the text rather than a distraction in a large-format. However, I think typography and the use of text can expand much farther in reading contexts. In many cases, the actual “visuals” of a text is essential to the overall meaning, especially in advertising. Companies want to stand out from one another and using unique fonts and styles for their logo helps achieve that, you cannot ignore the typography. I think this is what Butternick was trying to highlight in “Drowning the Crystal Goblet”: “The reason we care about clothing and speaking style—and typography—is because they’re all part of the presentation of an argument. And presentation matters specifically because it’s not meaningless. It reinforces our core message by adding its own complementary meaning.” 
Transitioning to the third and final text, I never quite realized the difficult international students had when it came to design readings/textbooks. Adding on to that, I did not realize the extent the impact English had over the country; it is an international language, if people want it to be or not. But I think it interesting to compare that to the fact that many Americans don’t have the need to learn other languages. 

After reading Lee’s personal view on design I realized how much background knowledge and history you needed to know in order to simply translate a text. I thought it was a very interesting idea to point out that in order to translate an excerpt or any kind of writing, especially when it comes to design and art, you need a solid grasp of history and theory. As a person who is both fluent in Korean and English, I could relate when Lee mentioned the struggle of explaining the two different languages into one definition. This raises my question, “If the meaning of language differ from each countries, how can we find a universal point that connects all? How do we find this point?