Caths Columns – Reading an Image

As part of our course we have to be able to analysis and breakdown our own work. Caths Columns is a way of working backwards to make sure that your desired message has been clearly conveyed. The process enables you to identify and consider the choices that you have made, so that you can inform your ideas and unpick the meanings and messages. To articulate your own work. The model that we were shown by our Lecturer Cath Davis is a formation of 3 columns. In the first goes the description – here is written the different components of the piece of work that you are analysing – such as the layout, hierarchy, description of the images, colour, text and so on. The second column is the analysis – this is the connotations of the images, what are the symbolic / cultural meanings. How it makes you feel and what does this tell you. Within the third column is your Theoretical Perspectives – this is where you support your analysis with quotations from academic studies. We will looking into more depth of the third column in our next lecture.

To help us get to grips with this process we started to look at images from the media. Caths columns can also help to understand what certain design choices that are made to create a certain message. This can help towards constructing our own work. By looking at the image to the left, takenred_dragon_movie from the marketing poster of the film Red Dragon. Without even thinking about it, we as the viewer will get an overall perception of what the film is about. How does the design of the poster illustrate the possible narrative of the film? By breaking down the poster I will be able to figure out how and why this is done. To begin with I started to fill out the first two columns in the table. The image below is taken from my own sketch book of my analysis within lecture.


By using the columns I was able to derive the narrative of the film, the connotations of Red in the title and use of the red filter give the impression of danger, along with the vast amount of black which can connote darkness that gives you a sense of unpredictability. This could imply that the film is a horror or a thriller or something along those lines. However the fact that you are given the main character, (we know this as Anthony Hopkins takes the hierarchy in the poster) shows it to be a thriller as more often than not horrors tend to show the victims in the film marketing rather than the perpetuator. There is much that can be read and digested from this process, it gives order to your thoughts and enables you to get a clearer picture of the design process and choices made by the designer to create pieces of work. Caths columns are going be beneficial making my work process a lot more productive. A very practical way to read images.


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