lecture 2: Key Histories


Codes and conventions – relation to their availability and access.

Numerous relationships between signifier and signified.

Competencies = competence.

Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the master works of visual communication.

James Elkins’s definition … understanding how people perceive objects, interpret what they see, and what they learn from them

(Elkins, J (2010) The Concept of Visual Literacy, and its Limitations, In: Visual Literacy, ed. James Elkins. New York: Routledge, pgs 217.)

Pictures can be ‘read’ and that meaning can be communicated through a process of reading.

Visual literacy has been apart of us since the beginning of man, cave paintings.

Rudimentary alphabets – Proto-Sinaitic script – gradually evolved into our western alphabets.

Egyptian art – symbolism (need the understanding of language to read the visual)

Roman/Greek sculptures – Realism – Narrative (story, tale, description)

Christianity – hidden symbolism (cultural grammar needed to read the image)

Islamic religion – decorative approach due to rejection of ‘idolatry’ (idols, icon)

Circles have no end so are ‘infinite’ – Allah is infinite.

Printing is fundamental to the development of the modern world.

Spreading information and knowledge to the masses.

Painting is dead – due to photography

Death of art? artists free to interpret, express own meaning (originator not reproducer)

Photography as a representation of reality – or at least his/her reality.

Industrialism leads to various art movements (known today as modernism)

What it should do, however, is spark your own curiosity to explore and expand your own visual literacy beyond the safety of your own specialist areas The broader your reading the richer your visual grammar.