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Art's unique strength is that it speaks many languages. Like mathematics, the visual arts accessible to the literate and the illiterate, the Chinese laborer, the Bolivian military officer, the US university student. While each viewer brings his own set of expectations and his own cultural context to a certain piece of art, he is not limited by language barriers, education, or literacy.
As such a formidable tool, visual stimuli have played an important role in both publicity and advertising (propaganda), and other forms of public art-different parts of society at different points have created art to send messages, or created art to demonstrate the beauty, the potential, or the ugliness of something. While public art exists in many incarnations, from the seemingly innocuous logo to the graffiti at the bus stop to the almost universally-identifiable swastika or cross, its careful manipulation and is an extraordinarily powerful political and economic tool. The advertising industry has capitalized on art's flexible nature, and makes billions annually off our susceptibility to the visual.
Images have a long history of manipulation and an important role in propaganda. From the US Army's famous War Bonds posters of World War II to Maoist propaganda, images have been used for hundreds of years to send powerful political messages to the world's illiterate masses. The media, famous for its use of photography, has successfully changed the course of wars, stirred public opinion, ignited arguments, and evoked sympathy through skillful manipulation of images. ...
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