Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image...- Wikipedia

 

In a world that is saturated with imagery, it is important that students are able to deconstruct imagery and interpret messages that are presented through visual media. 

 

One way of deconstructing an image is to find out WHAT IS IN VISUAL POWER. Then you can make inferences about meaning based on visual power and symbols. Lastly, you can try and decide how this image reflects the values of our culture or society. 

 

The best way to start is with addressing a few simple questions:

 

1) What do I notice first? Look for size, placement, color, proximity, and contrast. The thing that is large, bright, contrasty, or on the rule of thirds, is usually the most important (or has the most VISUAL POWER). 

 

2) What do I notice next? Images are usually filled with hierarchies of importance ( what has the next amount of power, or what has the least amount of power). 

 

3) Are there any symbols or visual metaphors? Is the artist using color, lighting, objects, placement etc.. to create meaning? 

 

4) What is missing? Is there information that you feel is missing? is that intentional? Is there a pattern that is creating a message? Think about Race, Gender, Class, Age, Body Type, etc... often an image can say many things by what it doesn't include. 

 

 

5) Take a look at these images and look for what is in visual power, and what symbols are included.  Once you have decided what is in power, and what symbols there are, ask yourself why they are there. Why does the advertiser/artist think this is something we want to see/buy/consume? What is the message this image is sending?

 

6) Do I agree with the message? If not, what would I change and why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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