Visual Literacy Introduction We read images everyday, from television, computer screens, magazines and films, to the everyday communication we have with each other in the form of body language. The ability to read visual images is known as ‘Visual Literacy’ and comes with its own set of grammar in the same way as written language. Interpreting meaning in cartoons, illustrations, film and the media is simply a matter of understanding the key elements of symbolism (representing things by using symbols), semiotics (the social relevance of signs and symbols) and metonyms (a logical symbolic representation of something such as a crown for royalty). Some of the components of visual literacy that we will look at are: Colour, line, shape, hue, texture, framing, angles, perspective, setting and symbols and metonyms SHAPE What do you feel when you see a circle? A square, a triangle? Are you affected the same way when you see angles and sharp edges? Shapes have an endless variety of characteristics each communicating different messages Lines and shapes • Help us to identify what is in the image • Direct our eyes into and around the image • Evoke moods and feelings eg round shapes can evoke ‘warmth’ SHAPE • Geometric • Organic from nature • Abstract Icons and symbols Psychology of Shapes Triangle = tension, conflict or action, it can also mean: energy, power, balance, law, science, religion. It refers to the masculine: strength, aggression, dynamic movement, self-discovery and revelation. Square = stability, equality, solidity, security, rationality and honesty. Circle = protective, infinite or eternity. Also connection, community, wholeness, movement and completeness. Spiral = expressions of creativity, the process of growth and evolution, and spirituality. LINE A line connects two points, they can be thick or thin and long or short. They can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal. A line can be broken or dotted, wavy or straight. Thin lines convey fragility, femininity, and seem delicate and soft Thick lines suggest strength and emphasis, they are bold and make a statement COLOUR Colour evokes moods and feelings, however cultural differences mean that something that is happy and uplifting in one country can be depressing in another. Light shades – happy feelings Dark shades –gloominess; fear, evil White – spirituality, purity, cleanliness Green – peacefulness; the earth, nature, jealousy Blue – sadness, depression, cold, peace, tranquility, spirituality Red - warmth, energy, strength, passion, danger and stop Pink – romance, love, femininity, peace, caring Gaze DEMAND AND OFFER Demand and offer refer to a type of gaze. Looking directly at the viewer and making eye contact is called a demand. The character or participant is demanding something from the viewer. Looking away from the viewer and not making eye contact is called an offer. Symbols and metonyms Combining images, creates further meaning What meaning has been created in these images by combining symbols? DOMINANCE – SALIENCE Dominance or salience is the term used when a character, animal or object: • captures our attention • holds our eye • is at the centre of what is happening It is a distinct quality which makes some items stand out from their neighbors and immediately grab our attention BODY LANGAUGE and FACIAL EXPRESSION Posture, gesture and facial expression give information about what people, and animals that behave in human ways, are thinking and feeling. What meaning is created by these postures and gestures? FRAMING Different approaches to framing produces different effects, which can: • include or omit certain things • give the viewer a point of view • direct the viewer to a particular • part of an image • create dominance or salience • emphasise a concept or feature Framing can ‘isolate’, making a person appear lonely or trapped JUXTAPOSITION Juxtaposition is the placing of two or more people, or people and things side by side or close together. Juxtaposition is used to emphasise, compare or contrast something. It can also suggest a connection between things or to distinguish them. It creates an original, ironic or insightful meaning. What meaning is changed by placing the lone boy in the photograph? LIGHT AND SHADE Light and/or shade in an image create mood. Shadows also can be used to create atmosphere. Look at these images what mood is created? What are the effects of light and shade in these images? COMPOSITION – POSITIONING in the FRAME Composition within the frame determines the amount of information given to the viewer as well as sometimes signaling a social relationship with the viewer. Framing is seen through a: • Long Shot • Medium Shot • Close Shot or close up • Framing can create dominance, importance or emphasise something Size Objects within the illustration may vary in size to establish and enhance the relationship between the viewer, the image maker and the page. Size also Creates importance, emphasis or dominance. ANGLES The angles position the audience’s view of the character create different relationships between people and objects. Angles also can create importance or dominance of a subject. Angles at eyelevel create an equal status with viewer or other characters Low angles create an ominous and dominant character High angles create vulnerability or weakness of the subject What is the effect of the angles in these illustrations? Is the meaning created the same? If no, what creates the difference? SETTING VECTORS Vectors are directions created in the image which force the eye to follow a particular direction, to point to a particular object or create salience. Vectors are formed in two ways: • By the direction of the gaze – this gives us information about what is going on between people or objects in an image • By lines, real or implied that leads the viewer to focus on a particular part of the image Shaun Tan Bernard Oberdieck, illustrator Intertextuality Meaning in the text is reliant on the reader connecting the image or narrative to another story. What story has been used here? What meaning is created by using the story and the image? Deconstruction Annotate this image with all the visual literacy techniques the you can identify What is the effect of these techniques?