What Do You See?

I would like to introduce you to an artist by the name of Hannah Altman. Relying on a certain “shock-factor” and the recoil of audiences in their reaction, the 19-year-old artist based in Pittsburgh has got her foot in the door of the art world recently after the release of her series And Everything Nice. In the photographic series she highlights the issue of gender differences and the unreasonably high beauty standard for women. The faceless and carefully composed still photographs represent girls and women in all various afflictions where bodily fluids are replaced with a much more palatable substance – glitter. A girl retching green glitter into a public toilet, blue glitter as a girl weeps, red glitter as a grazed knee, bleeding gums and a menstrual stain. She commentates of the unrealistic expectation for women to hold attraction in any circumstance, and challenges the pre-conceived beauty standard as audiences are either confronted or in awe of its metaphorical state. She avoids including recognisable and identifiable features of the subjects in her photographs, so as to focus on its conceptual meaning. The photos can be seen below (credit to Hannah Altman)

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But how do we make these connections between an image and an important social issue? Do we make the link because our mind leads us to or do we make the link because it is what the artist/composer/author wants us to? Is it possible that different audiences would read these images more than one way? For example, a female audience may view these photographs and directly relate to the situations depicted, and connect with the ideology that women have an expectation held upon them, where they are expected by society to always appear beautiful. However perhaps a male audience will not relate and may see these images and interpret a message stating that women do not experience somewhat repulsive bodily behaviour, and instead experience it as if it were as beautiful as glitter. These distorted views and differing connotations will depend on the experiences and the ideologies of the on looking audience and how they interpret the representations. So my question is, how do you interpret these images? What do you think the connotations are? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

For now, signing off,





  1. March 18, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    A great blog post demonstrating an extensive insight into the way individuals perceive texts differently depending on their context, beliefs, experiences etc. It’s clear from your analysis of artist’s work that you have fully researched and gained an understanding of the photographs meaning, the included metaphors and the techniques Altman uses to communicate these issues to the public.
    With clarity and flow, you have allowed the reader to develop a deep understanding of the photographs connotations and the connections the responders mind makes.
    By reading your post, I was studying semiotics without even realising it!
    Such an interesting read, so thank you!

  2. March 30, 2016 / 9:44 pm

    Hey There!
    This blog is super efficient in describing the perception of diverse individuals. I think the photos were a great way to provoke thought and feelings in the viewers, as well as taking away their own interpretation: whether it be positive or negative. I think these photos are actually stunning, although they do invoke a series of emotions that may be related to my social conduct. I like how you quoted about how… “These distorted views and differing connotations will depend on the experiences and the ideologies of the on looking audience “… because it not only related to the photos in your blog but also to the way society perceives itself. I do particularly like the way the photographer uses ‘unidentifiable features’ of the subjects to focus on it’s conceptual meaning- I think that is a powerful thing to understand. This blog is extremely well written, and I commend you on the use of these amazing pictures. Amazing job, totally love it.

  3. April 4, 2016 / 11:04 am

    Claudia! This is very interesting! At first I saw the blue glitter not as tears but as just glitter on the girl’s face. As the images started to progress I realised that it stood for something different. It is funny how it almost takes the whole series to understand what the photos are really signifying to the audience. These images of things that are typically seen as ugly such as blood, sweat and tears are portrayed in a different light. Glitter, to me, carries positive connotations. These contrasting features make these images really intriguing. Although that is just my opinion and someone else could see something completely different! Love your work 🙂 Laura.

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