For my analysis of this particular work, Gretchen Barbatsis outlines effective methods for approaching visual artifacts (glossy ads in my case) that often craft compelling visual narratives. It is revealing to apply her investigations to find out why and how our realities are transformed by visual narratives. As Barbatsis suggests, by breaking down narratives into two facets, “formal stories” and “personal narratives” (p. 329), we can locate how a work of visual communication tells a story in pictorial form and to what end that story is functioning (p. 330). She makes clear that visual narratives in particular question what kind of expectations and assumption narratives allow and impose.
I also find it very effective to borrow, as Barbatsis does, from Walter Fischer’s concepts of “narrative fidelity” (“reliability of the world a story creates”), and “narrative probability” (“internal coherence or ‘integrity ... as a whole’”) as a guide to investigate how an artifact’s content is distinct from its form as the image appeals to our emotional, intellectual, and imaginative nature through narrative appeals present (p. 334). Quite useful also is Barbatsis' assertion that we must ask how narrative is structured visually through sequencing to carry meaning and derives a “pictorial narrative syntax” wherein narrative is a semiotic construct between story (content) and discourse (expression). An image is a “two-part sign structure” in which we move between content and expression simultaneously to make meaning (p. 337).
Evaluating the “narrating eye” not so much as an author but as a framer of events in space and time is also a valuable component to locating visual intention (p. 343). With a constructed image, the audience's sense of being told something comes from the way the picture is made – the use of the medium, the arrangement of elements, employed principles of design over composition, space and time. As Barbatsis makes clear, it is important to investigate the pictorial point-of-view to understand how the imager is guiding spatial awareness and the focus of events for the viewer at all times. How does the eye move through the story to fashion meaning? By applying Barbatsis' multidisciplinary approach of visual narrative theory to this particular ad and, ultimately, to my own research design, I can more fully delineate and realize the crafted nature of perception and constructed cultural meanings in my own visual artifacts of menstruation media.
Barbatsis, Gretchen. (2005). “Narrative Theory.” Handbook of Visual Communication. Eds. Smith, K., Moriarty, S., Barbatsis, G., and Kenney, K. Mahway, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2005. 329-350.