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Kimberly Detterbeck
Art Librarian Candidate
Purchase College Library
November 29, 2010
“Every picture has many layers
and ...
“Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables
an individual to effectively find, interpret,
evaluate, use, and creat...
Why is Visual Literacy Important?
Giovanni Paolo Panini. Interior of a Picture Gallery with the Collection of Cardinal Gon...
3 Areas of Competency
1. Image Literacy: the ability to find and analyze
or read images
2. Digital Literacy: the ability t...
Syntax and Semantics
Visual Syntax
Scale
Dimension
Motion
Arrangement
Composition
Balance
Space
Perspective
Size
Color
Lig...
ArtHistory
Jan van Eyck. The Arnolfini Portrait. 1434. National Gallery, London.
Visual Syntax
Scale
Dimension
Motion
Arrangement
Composition
Balance
Space
Perspective
Size
Color
Light
Tone
Editing
Cropp...
I Like Music Logo(s). Powell Allen, London, England, 2009.
GraphicDesign
Visual Syntax
Scale
Dimension
Motion
Arrangement
Space
Perspective
Size
Color
Light
Tone
Symbols
Editing
Cropping
Manipula...
ArtsManagement
Black Rock Arts Foundation campaign poster to install Raygun Gothic Rocketship at Pier 14 in San Francisco,...
Visual Syntax
Scale
Dimension
Motion
Arrangement
Composition
Balance
Space
Perspective
Size
Color
Light
Tone
Editing
Cropp...
3 Areas of Competency
1. Image Literacy: the ability to find and analyze
or read images
2. Digital Literacy: the ability t...
The Library Playing its Part
• Collections
• Technology
• Pedagogy
Jacob Lawrence. The Library. 1960. Smithsonian Museum o...
Collections___________________________________________________________________
Technology____________________________________________________________________
Pedagogy
_________________________________________________
+
3 Areas of Competency
1. Image Literacy: the ability to find and
analyze or read images
2. Digital Literacy: the ability t...
ARTStor
Thank you note in every language. Flickr user woodleywonderworks.
Selected Bibliography
ACRL Arts Section / Instruction Section, "Eye to I: Visual Literacy Meets Information Literacy"
(pro...
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The Curious Eye

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  • Welcome everyone. I’m Kimberly Detterbeck, a candidate for the Arts Librarian position. Before I start my presentation I just want to extend my gratitude to I just want to thank the search committee, especially Carrie, and all the staff here at Purchase College library for such a warm welcome and their hospitality. It’s a pleasure to be here and to be invited to your beautiful library.
    I have been asked to speak on the importance of visual literacy to careers in the visual arts, highlight some of the specific skills students should be acquiring while at Purchase college and discuss in what ways librarians can collaborate with faculty in order to foster the development of visual literacy. Visual literacy has only become a focus of study in the information professions in the last decade. The 2008 Horizon Report, the research efforts of New Media Consortium and Educase, lists four critical challenges for learning organizations in the coming five years. Among them is a call for institutions to "provide formal instruction in information, visual, and technological literacy as well as in how to create meaningful content with today's tools." As art information specialists, we have a skill set that creates an opportunity to be leaders in the area of visual literacy across the disciplines. The call for a focus on visual literacy in higher education or the opportunity "to take a systematic institutional approach to defining core values that include visual acuity alongside the ability to read and write“ affords art information professionals the chance to lead their campus in these efforts. Because visual literacy is a life skill rather than just an academic exercise, it is one of the most important things we can teach students.
    Before I delve into describing the individual skills and techniques intrinsic to visual literacy, I want to begin with a brief overview of the visual literacy landscape and offer a definition of visual literacy as that we are all on the same page.
  • Although “Visual Literacy” was first coined in 1969 by John Debes an employee of Kodak at the time, the term’s definition and understanding has morphed depending on its context. For the purposes of this presentation and how I approach visual literacy in practice, I draw from the working definition as spelled out by the relatively newly formed ACRL/IRIG Visual Literacies Task Group. You will notice that this definition resembles that of information literacy as spelled out by ACRL. Visual literacy can be understood as a form of critical viewing in much the same way as information literacy can be understood as critical thinking
    In practical terms this means that to be an effective communicator one should be able to create or select appropriate images to convey a range of meanings from concrete information to concepts and abstract expression, as well as being able to read, interpret and derive meaning from the visual messages created by others.
  • So now that we have some idea of what visual literacy is, why is it so important? Art librarianship has always been anchored to the visual -- a variety of photographic or other-rendered representations of objects and built environments, most often still images but increasingly more time-based media, 3-D visualizations, and complex graphical works. Visuals are the currency of art education and scholarship. We have addressed the presence of images in our profession primarily through art historical techniques such as close analysis and other forms of systematic looking. This has been adequate for the classroom and the field of art and art history, yet our age calls for a different mode of visual analysis that acknowledges the ubiquity and importance of images in society.
    Visual literacy as a field of research, study, and teaching becomes increasingly important with the ever-expanding proliferation of mass media in society. As more and more information and entertainment is acquired through non-print media (such as television), the ability to think critically and visually about the images presented becomes a crucial skill. Using images for research, teaching, and learning has almost become a minimum educational standard. the use of visual media in learning and teaching is supported by research demonstrating that learner preferences and styles can more effectively be addressed and that enhanced learning and retention take place through the use of visual material. Questions about critical thinking skills, evaluation skills, and competencies are being discussed around campus as colleges and universities are grappling with how to teach students of this generation—highly technological, highly visual, and easily distracted by media. Although this presentation focuses on them, we’re not only dealing with traditionally image-intensive patrons in art history and studio art, but with the full array of arts and humanities disciplines as well as emerging populations from all corners of our institutions and surrounding communities.
    Therefore, whether image users are coming to the library or departmental visual resources collection for assistance or not, it is going to take an agile team of professional staff to meet the demand for images effectively and to insure that patrons are finding what they need, when they need it, and they can figure out how to use, manage, and preserve images once they have them.
  • From the definition of visual literacy I presented three areas of competency can be extracted: image literacy, digital literacy and image composition. A visual literate person should satisfy each and all of these competencies to varying degrees depending on their area of specialization and career choice.
  • In order to satisfy these competencies, a visually literate person must be able to speak in the language of visuals. This is the combination of syntax and semantics. Syntax is the form or building blocks of an image. The syntax of an image can be regarded as the pictorial structure and organization. Some examples of visual syntax include…..
    Semantics refers to the way images relate more broadly to issue in the world to gain meaning. In practice visual semantics refer to the ways images fit into the cultural process of communication, which includes the relationship between form and meaning. Semantics could include looking at the way meaning is created through form and structure, culturally constructed ideas that shape the interpretation of icons, symbols and representations and a social interaction with the images. Some questions to ask to develop an understand of visual semantics include.
    While syntax and semantics can be studied individually it is important that they are also looked at as they are combined within an image. Any form of literacy but especially visual literacy is not about simply learning a set of fixed skills or rules. As with written and spoken literacy visual literacy differs depending on the context and purpose. Similarly visual literacy changes depending on who is using it and why. Librarians must be aware of the contexts at their institution and know what visual elements and questions to focus on as per the area of the visual arts. For example, lets look at three of the many possible careers a purchase student might be preparing for: art historian, graphic designer or arts manger. a student concentrating on art history with the goal of becoming an art historian or museum curator would focus more heavily on the first competency-image literacy. Analyzing the syntax of images and the ability to interpret the visual signifiers to place images in a historical, cultural and social context, is one of the main disciplines within art history. Lets take jan van dyke’s masterpiece, the arnolfi wedding, as an example.
  • To intelligently analyze and appreciation this work of art, an art historian needs to decode the syntax of the image, in this case the arrangement, composition of the figures in the fore and back ground, the perspective, and use of light and space and what symbols and metaphors are being communicated. To fully understand the context of the image, an art historian needs to ask themselves a series of questions like …. . Students then must organize their perceptions and thoughts about artwork and translate the experience of artwork into written form.
  • Graphic designers on the other hand engage more closely with the second and third competencies- digital literacy and image composition. Graphic designers convey a specific message (or messages) to a targeted audience via a combination words, symbols, and images to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. This example of design by the firm Powell Allan communicates its message via different elements of visual language and provokes different questions.
  • The arrangement of the symbols, how they are manipulated, cropped and edited, the emotions and impressions that colors convey along with the relationship between the visual and the textual are used by the graphic designer to communicate a message to a particular audience.
  • The work of art managers could align very closely with that of graphic designers. A part of arts management engaging with the financial side of the art industry which includes fundraising research, grant writing, fundraising campaigns, sponsorship, donor development and bequests, and fund management and reporting requirements.   This is an example of a work commissioned by an arts manager at the black rock arts foundation to a graphic designer in order to communicate via a contrived image.
  • The scale. Composition, tone, editing make of the visual syntax of this poster. The creator of the image is not so important to understanding the circumstances surrounding this image as the commissioner of this advertising campaign along with why it was created and who it was created to reach. Although art managers may not be the one actively creating the image, they still need to be visually literate especially in the competency of image communication.
  • From the definition of visual literacy I presented three areas of competency can be extracted: image literacy, digital literacy and image composition. A visual literate person should satisfy each and all of these competencies to varying degrees depending on their area of specialization and career choice.
    Hopefully this exercise reinforced that while grammars of visual literacy may hold true across a number of media, each form of media (painting, sculpture, graphic design, new media, and so on) all have their distinct characteristics, and skills. To produce effective and successful art historians, graphic designers, art managers and one of the many other arts-focused career programs offered here at purchase, our students must be proficient in some combination of these three competencies, placing varying degrees of emphasis on any as it is relevant to the work in that profession.
  • So where and how does the library fit into this? There are conversations all over campuses and across disciplines about competencies and life-long learning skills that students need that involve understanding the visual world in which they live. I would like to argue that visual literacy is a skill or set of skills that we are uniquely positioned to teach. Visual literacy is a tool for us to prove our value and to become involved in some of these larger, exciting conversations about the future of student learning. We, as art information professionals, have an opportunity to work with faculty and administrators on campus to help teach students about visual literacy in the context of collections, technology and pedagogy
  • First, we no doubt have the largest number of images in our collections anywhere on campus. Now, it is easy to argue that an even larger number of images exist on the internet, but the librarian should be seen as the conduit to the images found there as well. We need to stake out territory with images and develop the reputation as the image experts on a campus.
    One of the important parts of any of the literacies is knowing which resources to use when the time comes to locate information. The resources for visual information are as vast as those for textual. Information professionals need to familiarize themselves with the growing array of resources available to their users.
    Image resources can be usefully divided into two different categories: subscription electronic databases, and freely available online resources. Each have distinctive characteristics that are important to understand if you are going to be showing them to patrons.
    Image databases: Digital libraries of images with links to scholarly information. One of the most popular such databases is Artstor, curated collections of digital art images and associated data for noncommercial and scholarly, non-profit educational use. Art stor is Quickly becoming one of the more comprehensive resources for visual arts research. ArtStor and the other examples I have listed here, including institutionally specific collections developed and access via an image management system like EmBark that requires institutionally affiliation to access normally provide
    Complex searching capabilities made available through descriptive metadata
    Almost universally high quality image standards
    Restricted access to licensed users only
    Online digital collections: The movement toward digitization of rare and specialized materials has provided new ways for users to access those materials freely on the Internet.
    A significant amount of the images available via on the open web come from institutions like the Metropolitan, the Library of Congress or NYPL that are making available both textual and visual materials to users. These images, like those found in subscription databases, tend to be a very high quality, have intelligent search mechanisms and reliable metadata. Extreme ease of use makes the Internet continuously viable as an image resource. Open web image resources like Artcyclopedia, google images and flickr are less a place to find ‘scholarly’ visual sources than a user-centered medium to virtually browse for visual inspiration. Care must be taken in regards to image quality, image metadata and copyright of materials used. The search apparti are also varied when using internet image resources. The extremely popular Flickr and Flickr Commons allows for user Indexing via crowd sourced tags and other annotations. Tagging broadens the scope of indexing vocabulary beyond that of professional cataloguers or indexers. Rather than being documentation written by and for experts, tagging is user generated, user-initiated content, representative the relationship that can develop between varying groups of people and collections.
    Art librarians and visual resources curators are managers of materials that are actively being used by library users inside and outside the departments of art, architecture and the allied arts. It really is up to us to advocate for the relevance of our own collections, and to legitimize their value along side everything else our libraries offer.
  • In terms of technology, libraries have a responsibility to be educated about the available technologies to create, organize, store, and share images than anyone else on campus. I’ve included a few of the powerful tools available to visual resource and art library professions such as tin eye a reverse image search engine that creates a fingerprint for images to find where it has been used by crawling the web, or flickr, picnik or shutterfly which can be used to organize and display personalized collections of images.
    Many of these tools are web-based and free; they not only allow for easier access to image collections but also are valuable resources to teach the use, creation and manipulation of images as is critical for visual literacy. Our knowledge of these tools and our skills in using them is a value we can bring to campus conversations about new literacies.
  • Finally, pedagogy involves the combination of our knowledge of image collections and the technology to make the most of how to use, share, organize and access them. We know how images are used to teach. They are used as illustrations and as evidence. We have all been engaged with how to teach with images in some degree, and we can bring that to the table as well.
    My experience so far indicates that many faculty and students don’t completely understand (or haven’t taken the time to experiment with) the potential of digital image services that have quality images, detailed descriptive data, and image management and presentation tools bundled together. In my mind, this convergence is what makes educating educators about digital images different from other library resources and requires extra efforts on our part in terms of instruction.
    Building reciprocal partnerships and establishing clear communication channels between art librarians, visual resources curators, and the computing staff who are specialists in teaching with technology, designing smart classrooms, and supporting course management systems is crucial— especially natural synergy of the art librarian and visual resources curator working together. In this way, we can maximize campus resources while drawing upon the respected expertise of librarians and the spontaneous front-line services provided by visual resources curators to best serve image users—whether in the arts or humanities or any other discipline.
    Many visual resources are available, but some worthwhile collections remain hidden or isolated from potential users. Librarians should facilitate access to these collections by creating easily navigatable library websites and resource guides. Offering workshops to students and faculty on how to use the image databases and resources available via the library is another good promotional tool. Librarians should watch for opportunities to include image related library instruction across disciplines and analyze syllabi to determine where images might enhance student projects.
    Finally in describing this position, the art librarian will be one that brings programs and departments across campus together, limited not just to those exclusively in the arts. By establishing myself along with my colleagues in the visual resources department as experts on the tenants of visual literacy and the tools available to aid in its instruction we can reach out to those beyond the arts. Journalists not only need to know how to read photographs but also how to interpret and create visual representations of data in the course of their reporting; The capacities to both understand and generate technical pictures are fundamental to scientific and technological literacy for students at many levels. It has even been suggested that visual literacy be an integral part of the first-year composition course as it can aid students in developing their topics and conveying their ideas. The more we teach the integration text and visuals, the better our students will think, the better they will manage the vast amounts of information produced by our new information systems.
  • The pedagogical responsibilities of the librarian in terms of visual literacy usually falls within the first two competency I mentioned earlier in the presentation: image literacy which includes search and source-evaluation skills and digital literacy in terms of how to proper cite images when they are used. the content analysis and the creation of images falls more within the domain of the subject.
    Patrons need to be able to cite images as effectively as they can cite articles or books.
    Because of this, patrons must be able to find image metadata.
    Patrons need to know when which resource is appropriate.
    Online image search
    Electronic databases
    CD-ROM compilations
    Online collections
    Image books
    Patrons need to know what to look for to be able to tell if visual information is bad.
    Problems finding metadata?
    Image not authentic?
    Authentic, but not the image expected?
    Presentation somehow biased or problematic?
  • Images are drawn from sources such as museums, archaeological teams, photo archives, slide collections, and art reference publishers
    When searching for images, you must keep in mind 3 criteria:
    Image quality
    Resolution
    Fidelity to original image, if reproduced
    Determining the quality of image needed
    2. Image citation
    Does this image need to be cited? If yes, how do I cite it? Where do I find the information needed to create the citation?
    3. Visual information
    Problems finding metadata?
    Image not authentic?
    Authentic, but not the image expected?
    Presentation somehow biased or problematic?
    Luckily the library provides access to ARTstor, an image database that addresses all of these three criteria with a database of over one million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences. ARTstor collections comprise contributions from outstanding museums, libraries, photo archives, scholars, artists and artists' estates, and photographers ARTstor collections comprise contributions from outstanding museums, libraries, photo archives, scholars, artists and artists' estates, and photographers Because ARTstor strives to offer relatively consistent image quality across collections independent of the original source media you can be assured that the majority of images you find in artstor of a superior image quality.
    Lets jump in and start using artstor to find images. Accessing artstor is easy. Simply click on Art + Design / Art History and then select art stor from the list of resources. If you are off campus you will be prompted to sign in. Enter the database by clicking Go.
  • As art information professionals, we are in a unique position to educate our users about a vital and necessary skill set, visual literacy, relating to the current age in which we live. We have the background and understanding of visual rubrics as they relate to the fields of art and art history and, as we have outlined here, these rubrics can be expanded to other fields and disciplines. The confluence of our skills, Web 2.0 technologies, and most importantly, a desire on the part of our learners to be active participants in their own learning process, creates an environment where it is possible to imagine "the visual" catching and even eclipsing the textual in the area of information literacy
  • Transcript of "The Curious Eye "

    1. 1. Kimberly Detterbeck Art Librarian Candidate Purchase College Library November 29, 2010 “Every picture has many layers and many truths. But we know that behind every image revealed there is another image more fateful to reality and in back of that image there is another and yet another behind the last one and so on up to the true image of that absolute mysterious reality that no one will ever see.” - Michelangelo Antonioni, film maker René Magritte. The Eye. c. 1932/35 . The Art Institute of Chicago. The Curious Eye: Understanding Visual Literacy in the Arts
    2. 2. “Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Images and visual media may include photographs, illustrations, drawings, maps, diagrams, advertisements, and other visual messages and representations, both still and moving. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, and technical components involved in the construction and use of images and visual media. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.” -ACRL/IRIG Visual Literacy Standards Task Group Honoré-Victorin Daumier. The Connoisseur. ca. 1860–65. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
    3. 3. Why is Visual Literacy Important? Giovanni Paolo Panini. Interior of a Picture Gallery with the Collection of Cardinal Gonzaga. 1749. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
    4. 4. 3 Areas of Competency 1. Image Literacy: the ability to find and analyze or read images 2. Digital Literacy: the ability to use, handle and manipulate images 3. Image Composition: the ability to create and communicate through images
    5. 5. Syntax and Semantics Visual Syntax Scale Dimension Motion Arrangement Composition Balance Space Perspective Size Color Light Tone Editing Cropping Symbolism Metaphor Parody Visual/text relationship Fore/back ground Visual Semantics Questions Who created the image? At what point of history and in what context was the image created? Who commissioned the image? For what purpose was the image created? In what context is the image being seen? Who is the intended audience of the image? In what form(s) of media will the image be seen? What has been omitted, altered, or included in the image? What does the image say about our history? What does the image communicate about our individual or national identity? What does the image say about society? What does the image say about an event? What aspects of culture is the image communicating?
    6. 6. ArtHistory Jan van Eyck. The Arnolfini Portrait. 1434. National Gallery, London.
    7. 7. Visual Syntax Scale Dimension Motion Arrangement Composition Balance Space Perspective Size Color Light Tone Editing Cropping Symbolism Metaphor Parody Visual/text relationship Fore/back ground Visual Semantics Questions Who created the image? At what point of history and in what context was the image created? Who commissioned the image? For what purpose was the image created? In what context is the image being seen? Who is the intended audience of the image? In what form(s) of media will the image be seen? What has been omitted, altered, or included in the image? What does the image say about our history? What does the image communicate about our individual or national identity? What does the image say about society? What does the image say about an event? What aspects of culture is the image communicating?
    8. 8. I Like Music Logo(s). Powell Allen, London, England, 2009. GraphicDesign
    9. 9. Visual Syntax Scale Dimension Motion Arrangement Space Perspective Size Color Light Tone Symbols Editing Cropping Manipulation Symbolism Metaphor Parody Visual/text relationship Fore/back ground Visual Semantics Questions Who created the image? At what point of history and in what context was the image created? Who commissioned the image? For what purpose was the image created? In what context is the image being seen? Who is the intended audience of the image? In what form(s) of media will the image be seen? What has been omitted, altered, or included in the image? What does the image say about our history? What does the image communicate about our individual or national identity? What does the image say about society? What does the image say about an event? What aspects of culture is the image communicating?
    10. 10. ArtsManagement Black Rock Arts Foundation campaign poster to install Raygun Gothic Rocketship at Pier 14 in San Francisco, 2010.
    11. 11. Visual Syntax Scale Dimension Motion Arrangement Composition Balance Space Perspective Size Color Light Tone Editing Cropping Symbolism Metaphor Parody Visual/text relationship Fore/back ground Visual Semantics Questions Who created the image? At what point of history and in what context was the image created? Who commissioned the image? For what purpose was the image created? In what context is the image being seen? Who is the intended audience of the image? In what form(s) of media will the image be seen? What has been omitted, altered, or included in the image? What does the image say about our history? What does the image communicate about our individual or national identity? What does the image say about society? What does the image say about an event? What aspects of culture is the image communicating?
    12. 12. 3 Areas of Competency 1. Image Literacy: the ability to find and analyze or read images 2. Digital Literacy: the ability to use, handle and manipulate images 3. Image Composition: the ability to create and communicate through images
    13. 13. The Library Playing its Part • Collections • Technology • Pedagogy Jacob Lawrence. The Library. 1960. Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
    14. 14. Collections___________________________________________________________________
    15. 15. Technology____________________________________________________________________
    16. 16. Pedagogy _________________________________________________ +
    17. 17. 3 Areas of Competency 1. Image Literacy: the ability to find and analyze or read images 2. Digital Literacy: the ability to use, handle and manipulate images 3. Image Composition: the ability to create and communicate through images
    18. 18. ARTStor
    19. 19. Thank you note in every language. Flickr user woodleywonderworks.
    20. 20. Selected Bibliography ACRL Arts Section / Instruction Section, "Eye to I: Visual Literacy Meets Information Literacy" (program and virtual poster session), American Library Association Annual Conference 2007, Washington, DC), http://eye2i.wordpress.com/ (accessed Nov. 28, 2010). Elkins, James. Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2003. Harris, Benjamin R. "Image-Inclusive Instruction," College & Undergraduate Libraries 14, no. 2 (2007): 65-75. ------. "Visual Information Literacy via Visual Means: Three Heuristics,“ Reference Services Review 34, no. 2 (2006): 213-21. Hill, Charles A. and Marguerite Helmers, eds. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. Marcum, James W. "Beyond Visual Culture: The Challenge of Visual Ecology," Libraries & the Academy 2, no. 2 (2002): 189-206. Messaris, Paul. “Visual ‘Literacy’: A Theoretical Synthesis.” Communication Theory, no. 4 (1993): 277- 294. Nelson, Nerissa. "Visual Literacy and Library Instruction: A Critical Analysis,“ Education Libraries 27, no. 1 (2004): 5-10. Prown, Jules David. “Mind in Matter.” In Art as Evidence: Writings on Material Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. Seppanen, Janne. The Power of the Gaze: An Introduction to Visual Literacy. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2006. Snavely, Loanne "Visual Images and Information Literacy," Reference & User Services Quarterly 45, no. 1 (2005): 27-32. Tufte, Edward R. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, Conn: Graphics Press, 1997.

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