VISUAL LITERACY READING THE VISUAL WHAT IS VISUAL LITERACY? Visual literacy is a term used to describe being able to
read texts that are not just words. Reading pictures is a type of reading that is very important. Pictures communicate meaning to a responder. They speak to us and ask us to respond. WHY IS VISUAL LITERACY SO
IMPORTANT IN OUR SOCIETY? Many of the forms of communication and texts in our society are visual. We are surrounded by pictures every day. Each day we see advertisements, films, TV shows, posters, photographs, painting, drawings and the
internet. HOW DO WE COMMUNICATE? Communication is what happens when two people interact. Communication is a two-way street. We might
say something to another person, but they respond to and interpret what has been said. We can communicate in many different forms. We speak, we write, we draw, we photograph, etc. What is the meaning of the following object in Western culture?
MEANING OF THE HEART We share the idea that this is a heart despite not looking like an actual heart. We share the idea that it means love despite the fact that hearts do not feel emotion.
The colour also signifies passion and love. What do you think the following slide means? READING STILL IMAGES There are various elements to look for in a still image
that will help you understand how it creates meaning. These include Colour, Line, Vectors and The Reading Path, Viewing Angles and Perspective, Background, Foreground, Contrasts, Texture, Salience, Offers and Demands, Modality and Frame.
COLOUR Colour has meaning within cultures. The meaning is not fixed, but generally we can give colours a meaning. Write down the meaning of the following
colours. MEANING OF COLOURS Red = Passion, Hot, Love, Anger Blue = Sadness, Cold, Winter, Calm
Black = Evil, Nothing, Darkness Green = Nature, jealousy, Spring LINES Lines also have meaning within our culture.
For Instance: Horizontal: Calm, Horizon, Lack of difficulty Curved: Less predictable, water, fluid, movement, natural
Vertical: Isolation, lack of movement, trees, people Jagged: Danger, Destruction, Anger Right Angles: Artificial, Man
made, cold, harsh VECTORS Vectors are how the eye is led through the picture. This also relates to The Reading
Path. In Western society, we are taught to read from left to right. This means we usually look at a picture from left to right. We also read from top to bottom. A vector will influence the order in which we look at the elements of the picture.
Think about how we read this cartoon VIEWING ANGLES Viewing angles are the angles from which we view a
picture. This works the same way as it does in film. We may be viewing a picture from the front, the back, above, below, etc. We may also be viewing from a characters perspective. The angle from which we view a picture helps to create meaning.
This famous photograph of John Lennon is taken from a low angle. This makes him and the
Statue of Liberty both look dominating and important. CONTRASTS
Contrasts make certain aspects of a picture stand out. Contrast is often to do with lighter and darker colours. For instance, in the previous photograph, the contrast between the light sky and the Statue of Liberty make the statue stand out. However, John Lennon, as the darkest
element in the picture, stands out more than the statue. BACKGROUND AND FOREGROUND The focus of a picture also depends on the positioning of the objects. In the John Lennon photograph, he is in the
foreground (closer to the responder). The Statue of Liberty is in the background. Objects in the foreground tend to be seen as more important. TEXTURE
Texture is usually associated with touch, so it may seem strange that it is an element of visual images. However, pictures often look as though they would feel a certain way if we were to touch them, and this creates meaning. How would you describe the texture of the following pictures?
SALIENCE An aspect of a text is given salience if it is given importance. There are many ways to give one aspect salience, several of which have been
explored already. These include vectors, viewing angles, background and foreground and contrast. Another is simply size. In the image below the words are given
salience In this image the image is given salience OFFERS AND DEMANDS
Some objects in a picture demand that you look at them, whilst others are only offered, you do not have to look at them and you often miss them. There are many ways of creating a demand. Eye contact is one of the best. The following painting, Pieta, by Pietro Perugino, is an example of offer and demand.
The painting, painted in 1494-95, is a picture of Jesus after his death and his friends around his body mourning him. There are several demands in this painting, such as the body of Christ and the Virgin
Mary holding him. However, it is not these very important figures that demand our attention, but the figure in the middle at the left. Not only does he hold the head of Christ but he looks directly out of the frame and into our eyes.
MODALITY Modality refers to how realistic a picture is. If it is totally realistic it has high modality. If
it contains some realism it has moderate modality. If it is non-realistic it has low modality. HIGH MODALITY
MEDIUM MODALITY LOW MODALITY FRAME
Frame refers to what has been placed in the picture and where. In the painting Pieta there are six figures that are very evenly
balanced; two kneeling on either side, one sitting in the centre and one laying across the central figures lap. The background is also very evenly framed, with
the archways placed across the centre. The following four slides will give you an enhanced sense of what is meant by the terms and definitions preceding
this slide. They do not deal with Romeo and Juliet. Salient image: The saturation of black predominates the
image. Consequently, the central positioning and the use of a vibrant red, draws the audience s focus directly to Red Riding
Hood. Vectors: Red Riding Hoods gaze; her appearance of stepping forward connects with the audience. The fact that she
is moving forward from light into darkness creates a mood of apprehension. Modality: ,The image of Red Riding
Hood is an example of high modality, as it represents a realistic, life like depiction of her character. This enhances the sense of
foreboding within an audience as she continues her journey into an obviously hostile environment.
contextualised contextualised The background is contextualised by the vicious barbs jutting out from the densely packed trees; metaphorically
representing the ravenous jaws of a wolf. Colour: is a vital element in this image. Red Riding Hood is enveloped by a blood red cape, foreshadowing the
violence that is to come. Her white dress symbolises her purity and innocence. The intense saturation of black indicates the evil realm that she is walking into. It appears that she is about to be consumed by the
darkness. To do: Using the style of the previous four slides, choose one or more of the slides that follow to indicate how meaning is created via any of the six following visual elements.
Colour Line Vectors and The Reading Path Viewing Angles and Perspective Background and Foreground Frame
Contrasts Texture Salience Offers and Demands Modality
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