Visual Literacy: WHAT IS IT? Visual literacy is the ability to SEE, UNDERSTAND, THINK, CREATE, & COMMUNICATE GRAPHICALLY. (Thibault and Walbert, 2003) Anne Bamford (2003) states: Visual Literacy History - Visual literacy has emerged from a number of disciplines including Visual arts, Art History, Linguistics, Literacy, Philosophy, Psychology, Perceptual physiology, Sociology, Cultural studies Media studies, Instructional design, Semiotics, Communications studies, Educational technology. Visual Grammar - There is no visual dictionary because it would be unrealistic. Visual literacy is the successful combination of syntax (the organization of the image) and semantics (the symbolic meaning of the image). When It Starts - Beginning at 12 months of age, children can read graphically with some accuracy and by 3 years of age they can accurately read and produce graphics that are capable of abstraction and symbols.
Visual Literacy: A VITAL SKILL “We live in an increasingly visual culture. We are surrounded by images everywhere in our lives - in newspapers and magazines, in advertising, on television, and on the Web. This makes the need for visual literacy and the ability to “read” images a vital skill. ” (Bamford, 2003; Henry, et al., 2010)
Visual Literacy: WHERE IS IT USED? Visual literacy is necessary to make sense of the images that are all around us. Of note, it is used in:
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: COMMUNICATION From prehistoric times, man has desired to communicate. Before the development of language, man was able to convey a series of ideas and observations through the use of images and symbols. If you look at the Paleolithic cave paintings in France, which are estimated to be roughly 30,000 years old, you can see early forms of visual literacy. Paleolithic Cave Paintings: Chauvet Cave; Pont d’Arc, France; 28,000 BCE
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: INTERPRETING MEDIA "The image survivesthe subject and becomes the remembered reality.”
“A wise man once said that a picture is worth a 100 words. But when visual symbols are used in place of words to express an idea or evoke a feeling or a mood within us, it is necessary for the viewer to be able to understand the message.” Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange, photograph, 1936 (Oring, 2000)
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: ILLUSTRATIONS Visual literacy can involve the ability to interpret visual representations of stories. Illustrations in a children’s picture book can provide wordless interpretations of the written story. Illustrations in picture books have the power to teach children how to read and make sense of the story. Ask, “What objects and people, do you see? What are they doing? Why are they there?”. (Thibault,2010)
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: SEMIOTICS Visual literacy is seen in semiotics, which is the study of symbolic processes in which a visual image is combined with a meaning or is the carrier of a meaning. In this case, a Red Rose has the carrier meaning of ‘I Love You’, so the red rose becomes a symbol. (Kress, et al., 2001) = “I Love You”
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: MANIPULATION Often visual literacy is needed to understand manipulated images, which are seen in some forms of media. A visual pun is the use of symbolic imagery to suggest two or more meanings or different associations. (Rohrer, 2010) What is represented in this visual play on words? KING OF POP
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: ABSTRACTION : Visual Literacy is sometimes needed to express or understand abstract visual representations of familiar concepts. Often seen in logo design, visual abstraction has many uses. Have you ever texted or emailed a colon next to a closing parentheses to visuallyexpress to someone that you were happy? This abstract representation of a face becomes a symbol. People don’t really look like this, but we all know what it means. + )
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: PROCESS & SEQUENCE Visual literacy is not just the ability to interpret an image in order to understand a story, a moment from the past, or a symbol. Visual literacy can involve the ability to understand a process or sequence, as seen here in the visual instructions for how to create an origami crane.
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: SPATIAL-ABILITY Visual literacy can involve the ability to understand a spatial concept, such as how 2D shape nets become 3D objects or how architectural design plans represent the proposed reality of construction. Spatial-ability involves the capacity to visualize how parts and sections become a whole.
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: VISUAL DATA Visual literacy can involve the ability to interpret visual representations of data. Remembering to be a critical consumer of information, Tufte (1991) encourages viewers to look for the Lie Factor within visual data, by checking that “the representation of numbers, as physically measured on the surface of the graphic itself, should be directly proportional to the quantities represented.” In this case, 22% (14) of the people in the image are shaded blue to create an abstract U.S. flag. 4 (rows) X 16 (columns) = 64 64 ÷ 22 = 14.08
WHERE IS IT USED? Visual Literacy: VISUALIZATION “Most of the things we makebegin with amental picture.” This is true for planning a meal or organizing research, planning a vacation or a trip to the mall, and even visualizing the parts of a story to “jog your memory”. Visualization is used by almost everyone. And yes, some are a little more inclined than others, but it is something that we all do to a certain extent. (Preble & Preble, 2004)
Visual Literacy: IN THE CLASSROOM Visual literacy is vital to understanding the world around us. AS EDUCATORS, WE NEED TO teach individuals to be critical consumers andcreators of information. (Diem, 2006)
Visual Literacy: IN THE CLASSROOM “Young people learn more than half of what they know from visual information, but few schools have an explicit curriculum to show students how to think critically about visual information.” - Mary Alice White (McKenzie, 1998) DATA:The Periodic Table of Visualization Methodsis a great tool to organize information for presentations or research. It helps focus the end goal of the data to ensure accurate interpretation, whether it is to solve a dilemma (dilemma diagram) or to show that something is greater than the sum of its parts (funnel). SPATIAL-ABILITY:TheMath is Fun websiteprovides great resources for exploring mathematical concepts. The information on solid geometry is very useful in that it provides 2D and 3D representations along with printable shape nets to allow for hands-on exploration. PICTURE WALKS: When learning to read or learning a new language, illustrations can be used to draw upon previous experiences and knowledge to help learners make sense of the book and textual language. Try it with Reading Picture Booksor Analyze a Picture Book.
Visual Literacy: SUMMARY Visual literacy relates closely to aspects within technology, communication, technical, and multicultural literacies in that it provides a visual language for interpreting and creating meaning from graphics and symbols.
References – Visual Literacy Bamford, A., (2003). The visual literacy white paper. Adobe Systems Incorporated: Tools for the new work. Retrieved from http://www.adobe.com/uk/education/pdf/adobe_visual_literacy_paper.pdf Diem, R., (2006). A positive or negative force for democracy: The technology instructional paradox. International Journal of Social Education, 21, 148-154. Henry, B., et al., (2010). Picture this: California’s perspectives on American history.Oakland Museum of California. Retrieved from http://museumca.org/picturethis/index.html Kress, G., Jewitt, C., Ogborn, J., & Tsatsarelis, C. (2001). Multimodal teaching and learning: The rhetorics of the science classroom. London: Continuum. Oring, S. (2000). A call for visual literacy. School Arts, April, 58-59. Preble, D., & Preble, S. (2004). Artforms. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Rohrer, K., (2010). Incredible art lessons. Incredible @rt Department. Retrieved from http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/high/puns.htm Shlain, L. (2005). Visually speaking. Edutopia, October. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/visually-speaking Thibault, M., (2010). Learn NC. Reading picture books. Retrieved from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/669 Thibault, M., & Walbert, D. (2003). Learn NC. Reading images: An introduction to visual literacy. Retrieved from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/675 Tufte, E., (1991). The visual display of quantitative information.Graphics Press: USA.