Notebook, 1993-


Visual Literacy

Having or showing knowledge of . . .

- - - - - -
Literacy implies participation, responsiveness, understanding and communication with others.

Every person has developed forms of VISUAL literacy which aid in focus and perspective. One who has not developed visual skills has great difficulty in sorting things out when suddenly acquiring the vision.

Productive activities such as drawing, composing, modeling, etc. lead to familiarity and confidence in productive visual experiences.

Development proceeds, generally, through an individual's social/cultural interactions and exchanges and/or dialogue in regard to either or all of the functional and non-functional, productive, aesthetic and/or historical orientations significant to fields in the humanities, commercial enterprise, entertainment industry, mass communication. Consider, for example: advertising and package design of products [food, cosmetics, etc.], architecture and interior design, road signs and billboards, fashion, landscape design, the movies, performance, magazines, TV, etc. etc.

Developments may proceed through personal appreciation of the arts and art works on a very general level . . . . or may proceed specific to a discipline [i.e., Oil Painting, Photography, Intaglio, etc.] or disciplines . . . . or may proceed with focus upon categories of visual arts experience [i.e., aims and objectives involved with visual elements and relationships in conceptual and theoretical consideration] . . . . or may proceed specific to a Historic, Cultural, Practical, Theoretical, or Topical focus.

Developments may proceed specific to a regard for materials and methods in the pursuit of a visual arts education - and according to a discipline [such as drawing methods] - and may be related to Historic, Cultural, Practical, Conceptual, Theoretical, Social or Topical orientations in personal or professional experience, as well as it may be discerned generally or specific to a determined focus at a particular moment in one's development . . .

A lot of visual experience serves no significant aim or purpose - generally. There may be a proliferation of unrelated advertisements, store signs, and direction lights . . . . There is not one purpose, focus, direction to the preponderance of relationships and changes within environments. However, generally, an environment is understood for its elements and the relationships--what is expected.

Much is acknowledged by individuals with more or less focus or intent at any given time - and what is noticed may or may not be considered meaningful in its way--may or may not be appreciated for what it is or what it may be in relationship to other things--yet many things are absorbed--many things may be nourished - many things probably are properly associated and placed into the perspective of one's own understanding--the choices one maintains and may choose to enhance.

What many see, only one may be seeking--such as the Route sign. What anyone notices may not be what another presently considers . . .

What anyone notices may be developed as a part or perhaps generally. [i.e., was it the color of the large sign or the atmosphere late in the afternoon light - or the proportion of the cars passing by . . . . or all of it?]

Much isn't noticed--not picked-up--and a lot of the time a lot seen is just sorted and dropped in relationship to one's focus or experience--immediately, currently, or generally. This is true of happenstance, in which one's perspective and discrimination prove useful, but also of course it is necessarily true of formal intentions and presentations for general viewing which apply in part, taking part - the circumstance taken into consideration in the process of planning and design. And, of course, the circumstance and things change . . . . One observes those things "old" and what's "new."

Numerous forms of understanding and substantiation of one's appreciation and use of visual knowledge include observation, participation, and expression in traditional and innovative arts disciplines and contemporary cultural events which are primarily visual or in which visual arts serve an important subsidiary role--such as set design in the dramatic arts, film and television programming, and musical performance.

Literacy may be orientated towards visual experience that may be primarily exploratory in regard to the elements, relationships, and characteristics of materials.

Literacy may be developed through consideration that arises from experience that is primarily: personal, conceptual, expressive, historic, cultural, traditional, or pursued through one of many professions . . . . The focus may be upon design, aesthetics, communication and expression, popular contemporary culture, products, and mass media, scholarship, industrial design and engineering, architecture, environmental planning, interior design, computer graphics, 3-D assemblage, performance, technical illustrations for science texts, etc. etc.

There are major and minor visual roles in human experience - generally - which may serve to please as well as to challenge association and participation. Applied visual arts, such as many design professions, may aid an effective exchange or communication--serve an objective, sell a product, clarify an idea.

A perspective through experience aids in the weight and attribution, reference and association of relationship and potential.

One's own development/references bring perspective to the association and meaning, limitations, and possibilities. This is enhanced through exercises, the development of objectives, and the 'tuning' or refining of visual considerations - all of which may aid in the deepening, or the lightening, or the broadening of human experience . . . . .

Some people may be more literate in an approach to visual/spatial experience--some more visually/spatially orientated to atmosphere and mood--and in either regard some may compensate for a lack of another common form of dialogue or approach to relationship and experience.

Literacy at the age of 55 is apt to mean and to represent visual experiences and responsibilities which differ from those of a person at the age of 30 or 10.

One's visual literacy or an expertise in a form of visual literacy could make a significant contribution to the depth and breadth of considerations of relationship, self, and responsibility--to the regard for human circumstance as visual considerations continue to develop in the humanities.

Forms of visual literacy are of course significant to forms of professional responsibility, such as in the field of commercial photography--for fashion--perhaps, or-with other visual considerations--as those of a photojournalist., etc.

Delightful, fascinating, signficant, amusing, challenging, tough, relaxing, wonderful visual experience is just one aspect to human experience in general.......

R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S 
Literacy 1. the quality or state of being literate, esp. the ability to read and write.

Literate 1. able to read and write. 2. having an education; educated. 3. having or showing knowledge of literature; writing, etc.; literary; well-read. 4. (of writing, conversation, etc.) lucid; accomplished. -n. 5. a person who can read and write. 6. a learned person. [late ME < L .....learned, scholarly. See LETTER1, -ATE1.

[Urdang, Laurence, ed. Random House Dictionary of The English Language. New York: Random House,1968.]



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