Sunday, May 27, 2012

Maggie Sauter: The Visual Life of Occupy Wall Street

The Visual Life of Occupy Wall Street
by Maggie Sauter
MIT Comparative Media Studies

Many visual tropes have accompanied Occupy Wall Street's rise to public prominence. In the beginning, there was the ethereal image of a ballerina poised delicately on the back of the Wall Street bull which graced the original posters and calls-for-action. There were photos of Zuccotti Park crammed with tents and blue tarps. The iconic "I am the 99%" stance, a photo of a single person, holding a handwritten sign dense with text, became a form in and of itself, attracting spinoffs, parodies, and rebuttals.

Two images, in particular, have become highly associated with the Occupy movement in the public eye: the image of Officer Pike pepper spraying students at UC Davis, popularized by the Pepper-Spray Cop remix meme; and the Guy Fawkes mask, first popularized by Anonymous. Each of these images speaks to different aspects of the Occupy movement, its origins, and its challenges, as well as hinting to where the movement will go in the future.

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