Goal is to understand the concepts with use of both elementary and secondary examples.
Anthony Brown – Children’s book writer – his image is on the cover of Dr. Serafini’s new book, Reading the Visual.
Vocabulary for talking about images. Use this knowledge for interpreting and then for constructing and designing.
-The text has become subservient to the visuals.
- We have become desensitised to the visuals around us
– When do we pay attention?
How do we Make sense of Visual Images?
Possible Theoretical Perspectives
Art history and criticism
Media and cultural studies
Systemic functional linguistics
Semiotics and social semiotics…
• Symbols are culturally bound Eg roses
We have to talk about meaning potential, not about singular meanings
• Not only do we have to understand the visual itself, we also have to include contexts in which images are viewed and the production and distribution of multimodal texts.
- Multimodal texts present information across a variety of modes including visual images, design elements, written language, and other semiotic resources.
- Different modes (semiotic resources) do different things in different ways, for different purposes
- With use of image there is a different commitment than there is with language; just more words will not get to what an image can do.
- Images first then the writing; more kids become visibly literate when we use more than writing to help them to convey what they know.
- Shifting Modalities
- Readers are confronted with visual images in their everyday lives with greater frequency than written texts without accompanying visual images and design.
The study of the nature of signs and the laws governing them
A study of how people use create and interpret various signs in their lives.
The sign is a link between a signifier (word, symbol) and a signified (concept.)
Saussure: signifier/ signified.
Pierce: 3 Types of signs
• Iconic – perceptual association between image and object (resemblance)
• Indexical – perceived direct association can be inferred (indication)
• Symbolic – conventionalized association between image and meanings (assigned)
Words in context derive different meaning over time. Eg the main idea of Othello in the 1800s is different than it is today – the words haven’t changed.
Perceptual – noticing, navigating, naming elements of multimodal texts
Structural – Grammar and Conventions of Visual Images and Multimodal Texts
Ideological – Analysis of the social practices and the socio cultural contexts of visual images and multimodal texts
Serafini modelled a text analysis of a picture storybooks (eg. Voices in the Park, by Anthony Browne; The Sissy Duckling, by Harvey Fierstein & Henry Cole illustrator; Moon Tiger by Phullis Root & Ed Young illustrator; Flossie & the Fox, by Patricial C. McKissack & Rachel Isadora, illustrator; Shark vs Train; Wolves, by Emily Gravett; ) by looking at the:
• Text as a Semiotic Ensemble
• Text as a Cultural Artifact
• And deconstructing the Visual Grammar used in picture storybooks.
• Understanding the underlying grammar or structural of images.
• Focus not just on whet is depicted, but how it is depicted.
• Concerned with means of representing experience and representing social interactions.
• Images, like text, is NOT a neutral representation of reality, it is motivated by its creator and culture.
• Creating visual artifacts requires selections to be made about what is to be represented.
Visual Points of View
• Worm’s eye
• Bird’s eye
• Top down (map)
• Long shot
• Medium shot
• Close-up shot
• Extreme close-up
ELEMENTS OF VISUAL GRAMMAR
o Selecting point of view for viewer and actors in an image
o Has socially determined values
o Provides viewer with their “window on the world”
o Acts as a focalizer for the narrative (character’s point of view)
o Creates involvement or detachment
o How elements of an image relate to one another
o How elements are integrated into meaningful wholes
o May encompass multiple modalities
o Shows viewer what to attend to
o Aesthetic considerations
• Image Zones
o Placement of elements in an image
o Adds weight / value to aspects of an image
o Shows viewers how to “read the image.
o What is foregrounded or back-grounded?
o Focus and out of focus
o Relative size – what is important?
o Colour – used to set off elements
o Contrast – set off elements
o Used to connect and separate elements in visual images
o Framing devices may be present or absent
o Can be inside, outside, or across images.
o Adds to what is salient in an image.
• Motif and Symbolism
o A motif is a recurring shape, object, or pattern used to infer meaning
o Symbolic relationships are socially constructed
o The relationships between symbol and meaning are arbitrary, ambiguous and multiple
o Authors’ intentions and readers interpretations may or may not align
o Often elements of pop or high culture are used as symbols
o A motif is a recurring shape, object or pattern used to infer meaning
o Whether something is being represented as true or not
o Ranges from abstraction to realistic representations
o Provides information about how an image is to be read (Fictional – Realistic)
o Correspondence between representations and how we see the world
o Numerous markers – colour, saturation, depth codes are used
• Narrative Processes (Interpersonal distance and vectors)
o Demands – requires active response to image
o Offers – placed in voyeuristic position
o Creates a social distance between image and viewer
o Vectors are formed between actors and actors; images and viewers
• HOW images mean is as important as WHAT images mean.
• We need to develop a vocabulary (meta-language) for discussing visual elements, grammar, and structures.
• Teachers have to be able to understand these concepts themselves if they are going to be successful teaching them to students.
Related to Advertising Media:
• Ads use aspects of visual grammar to attract attention to products.
• Ads are used to create desire for products using various techniques.
• Avoiding advertisements is virtually impossible.
• The goal of Media Literacy Instruction is to create a “Critical Consciousness” for students to draw upon.
A Book about Design - Mark Gonyea
Picture This - Molly Bang
Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design - Gunther R Kress, Theo Van Leeuwen