Visual LiteracyCrossing the Bridge Towards a New Form of 21 st Century Learning Kari Carriere Marcie Perdue Kevin Baird
“When asked what students need to belearning that they are not, George Lucasreplied that they need to understand anew language of expression. They needvisual literacy.” Bleed,R. (2005)
Why Visual Literacy?“It’s not just about reading and writing it’s about incorporatingvisual elements into a new definition of what it means to be literate.”The question presented to 21st Century Educators is whetherstudents can interpret and use visual texts in ways thatadvance thinking, decision making, communication andlearning.
Angle ShotsThe angle is determined by where the camera is placed, notthe subject being photographed.The angle from which an object is photographed can oftenserve as a commentary on the subject matter. If the angle isslight, it can serve as a subtle form of emotional coloration.An extreme angle is often used to place significance on anobject. More importantly, it emotionally connects the viewerto a character’s feelings or emotions.
A New Way of Teaching While it is true that as teachers we are required tostudy film in our English classes, we need to moveour pedagogy further than simply discussing filmlike a written text. Instead, we need to push our students andourselves to see film as a form of visual literacy thathas its own terminology and techniques that areused to develop character and themes in new andexciting ways.
THE ONEAn anagram of Neo is One.The number 1 represents"the prime mover from which all manifest creation flows, the single principle from which diversity is born. In dreams it may represent the source of all life, the ground of being...”
Neos full name in the matrix is Thomas A. Anderson.The last name means "Son of Man" or "Mans Son.(both refer also to the Biblical Messiah. In Christiantheology, Jesus Christ is the Messiah (Son of God,Son of Man, "Light of The World") who savesmankind from its sins.Neo is not meant to actually represent Christ, butthese suggested connections elevate his status in thefilms and underscore the important role he plays inthe battle to save the human race.
NEOFilmed in Negative Space to demonstrate his alienation fromsociety and the truth.Negative space often indicates an internal conflict within acharacter.Film techniques can often be used to replicate an allusion forviewers to interpret.
The UnityTrinity stands for the number three.The word "trinity" is often used to represent the union ofthree people or things, such as: “body, mind and spirit”“birth, life and death” “past, present and future”The Matrix trilogy is in many ways united by the relationshipthat develops between Morpheus, Trinity and Neo. In theMatrix trilogy, Trinity serves as a uniting force, the one whogives us access to Neo.
Along with Neo, the character of Trinity is alsofilmed in negative space, but in contrast with thatof Neo. Quite often the two of them are filmed inopposition, until they are finally joined in the endof the movie.She is often filmed with lights and other charactersto symbolically represent a trinity.
Agent Defined:"A person or thing that acts or has the power to act.”"A drug or chemical capable of eliciting a biologicalresponse." By definition, the agents injected Morpheuswith an agent.An organism that is a cause of disease. (Note that AgentSmith called the human race a virus and he called themachines the cure.)”A person who acts in an official capacity for agovernment agency.”
The Enemy of ManThe word "agent" in this movie refers to the machinepolice of the matrix simulated world and are the humanraces enemy.Agents are, in the words of Morpheus, "Sentientprograms. They can move in and out of any softwarestill hard wired to their system. That means that anyonewe havent unplugged is potentially an agent. Theycould be everyone, they could be no one. Note that thethree agent names (Brown, Jones, and Smith) are allcommon last names
AGENT SMITHThe Agents are filmedusing primarily sidelighting. This technique istypically used to show theseparation between goodand evil in the self.Side lighting is often usedin two opposingcharacters to illustrateconflict between goodand who evil.
Telephones are often seen as a communication symbol and thedirectors emphasize their importance through the use of close ups andextreme close ups throughout the movie.In the Matrix the directors show an opposition between old and newforms of communication. Often the new “cell phones” used by the characters are shown assomething that serves a minor purpose and are unreliable and thereforeare quickly discarded (windows, garbage).Where the analog rotary phones of the past serve a primary purposethe only reliable trusted escape out of the matrix.