Does this book address the exigency and fulfill its purpose? Does it seize the kairotic moment? In the body chapters, Hariman and Lucaites thoughtfully analyze each photograph and its reproduction throughout culture as a representation of an "expressive body in a social space" (p. 35), and they coin the term "individuated aggregate" to suggest the figure who, through representing an individual standing metonymically for the body politic, at once embodies liberalism and democratic performance. The performance is frozen in time, to be replicated in a virtually infinite number of provocative manifestations. In Chapter 9, "Conclusion: Visual Democracy," the collaborators investigate the intersection of old and new media as well as the clash of old icons with new icons, most notably the "war porn" of soldiers' snapshots of Abu Ghraib. This last example suggests that photojournalism is shifting roles of producer and consumer. Viewers or participants are creating content, and news outlets are obtaining that content for distribution. Cautioning against oversimplifying these images, Hariman and Lucaites remind the reader that "fetishistic celebration of single images by ordinary individuals, such as when the Iwo Jima flag raising is tattooed on a man's back, probably is more a measure of powerlessness than of a robust public culture" (p. 300). This "public way of seeing" is not balanced and whether or not a "vibrant, liberal-democratic public culture is to prevail in any nation or in a global civil society . . . will depend in part on how public opinion is supported, negotiated, and guided by public arts" (pp. 303-04). In this conclusion chapter, Hariman and Lucaites perfectly sum up their argument, reiterate the significance of their book, acknowledge its limitations, and suggest the future implications of visual rhetoric in an increasingly visually literate society.
The best way to approach this book is to read the first two chapters, which lay out the argument and methodology, select a photograph (or photographs) of interest, and read the corresponding chapter. That chapter, however, will not satisfy the mind of the engaged scholar. The authors' rendering of complex notions with a readable lack of pedantic "academese" is refreshing, and reading the first two chapters will give Kairos readers the urge to read each rhetorical analysis as thoughtfully and thoroughly as they were researched and written. For scholars, this book provides an excellent and timely resource on visual literacy and rhetorical analysis. For professors, this book provides not only material for riveting classroom discussions, but also, in conjunction with the authors' blog, models for multimedia and multimodal projects of visual rhetorical analysis tied to and contributing to public literacy.