Ideologies are what make up our world views. Visual texts are used to capture these ideologies, but the ‘myth of photographic truth’ can mean that the perception of these ideologies change between the point a text is made available for viewing by the creator, and the point it is viewed and interpreted by an audience. This means that our perception of an ideology- and therefore our world view – is easily warped and manipulated.
The producer of any visual text is likely to be someone who has access to the many modern technologies made available to Western cultures in the present day. Therefore the producer is likely to create a text that conforms to Western ideologies and enforces the dominate Western world view upon the viewer of the text. The viewer of this text may not be a Westerner, however, which means they will interpret the text differently from someone who has had direct experience with the ideologies depicted by the text. It is in this way that the meanings of visual texts are changed.
Stachl, Erna. 237.130 Communications in Creative Cultures: Week 7 lecture.
Wellington, New Zealand: College of Creative Arts, Massey U. 27 April
2016. Slideshow and lecture. 17 May 2016.
Whyte, Dick. 237.130 Communications in Creative Cultures: Week 7 lecture.
Wellington, New Zealand: College of Creative Arts, Massey U. 27 April
These two videos – although they both address the topic of visual literacy – seemed to me to have rather different points. The first video seemed like a visual embodiment of a dictionary definition; for the most part the speakers simply explained their own interpretations of what visual literacy means. The Martin Scorcese video, however, was more personal; Scorsese brought his own individual experiences to the table. The clip was less about what visual literacy is, and more about why it’s necessary, how it broadens our minds, and how we must incorporate it into everything we do.
I definitely found the second video more engaging and would recommend this to others over the first clip, because it felt like I could connect on some level to what Scorcese was saying. His exploration of various ways we can become visually literate, and why we should do this was more interesting to listen to than the first clip’s authoritative summary of what visual literacy is. However, I do feel like the first video was more effective in clarifying the term ‘visual literacy’ for me, due to the straightforward, concise points being made.
Key points/ideas/quotes I gathered from each video
“Caring about visual literacy is caring about knowing” (Yenawine)
“In terms of visual literacy and critical thinking, images can be very powerful tools for communicating messages, and people need skills to be able to interpret these messages and have thoughtful responses” (Reid).
“In contemporary culture it’s become all too endemic to take things at face value” (Yenawine).
“Most people, they take in millions of images, and they don’t think about most of them… The process of vision is the engagement of what it is that we are looking at… It’s not critical thinking if just don’t notice anything that you see” (Kennedy).
The purpose of visual literacy is to employ examination in order to understand or interpret something (Yenawine).
“…someone who is visually literate is capable of accommodating multiple interpretations” (Levine).
“Being visually literate matters because we live in an increasingly visual world” (Nessa).
Video 2 (all quotes attributed to Scorsese)
Scorsese’s films embody the violence he witnessed around him as he was growing up. He doesn’t make his films for the purpose of providing a “pleasant” experience for the audience. He says; “The world I come from… that’s the human condition, and it’s tragic. It’s set up in such a way that it will do us in as a species if we don’t learn about it”.
“In the stories I’m trying to tell… I don’t know any other way to show it.”
“There are certain tools you use [to create visual literature], and those tools become part of the vocabulary, that’s just as valid as the vocabulary that is used in literature.”
“How do you point the audience’s eye to look where you want them to look, and to get the point, the emotional and psychological point that you want to get across to them?”
“You need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed through a visual form.”
“So much of today’s society is done visually and even subliminally.”
Visual literacy tells a story; “it’s a very powerful tool”.
“Visual literacy should be taught.”
“Images are very powerful. We have to begin to teach younger people how to use them; at least to begin to understand, to interpret them.”
We must “train the eye and the heart of the student” by getting them to look at a film from various perspectives and pointing out different aspects/ideas to them (Scorsese). When you do this, “you’re training them to think about a story that’s being told to you in visual terms in a different way”.
In exactly 5 minutes, write down everything you can remember of your chosen chapter in Mirzoeff’s ‘How to See the World’ and copy it verbatim into your blog:
We must learn to see the Anthropocene (change in lithosphere) by adapting the viewpoints of others and forming a worldwide view
Inverted effect: countries that emit the most CO2 are not those that are affected the most
Steel industry is the largest industrial cause of CO2 emissions – 30%
Smog was naturalised in Dickens’ ‘Bleak House’
Monet beautified destruction of nature
If you were born after 1985 you would not know what a pre-climate-changed world was like; therefore we accept the naturalisation of pollution because we don’t know an Earth where it wasn’t a ‘part of who we were’
Melting ice caps – ‘Coal + Ice’ exhibition
Bird experiment; reason triumphing over sentiment
Audubon passenger pigeons – kill to create beauty
Extinction of passenger pigeons
Fisk’s Mississippi River map in comparison to the Army Corp’s map shows how we’ve tried to tame the uncontrollable and artificialise nature
‘The Changing World’ requires us to acknowledge the current state of the environment that has resulted from the interference of mankind. Mirzoeff asks us to “see the Anthropocene” (Mirzoeff 219); to recognise the damage we have done unto the Earth. He proposes that we adopt a broad, worldwide view (Mirzoeff 237, 253) in order to comprehend the way our actions affect not only the select environments we inhabit as individuals, but also the environments inhabited by other people in other parts of the world.
It is vital that we do this; the future of our Earth depends on it. Currently we are living in a state where denizens of a certain place only concern themselves with dilemmas of nature that affect them directly. For example, the palm oil industry in Brazil employs ‘legal deforestation’ in order to establish plantations, which decreases bird populations and increases carbon emissions (Watsa). This issue goes almost unrecognised in New Zealand, and we are doing very little to help prevent this. However, this will undoubtedly affect us in the long term… carbon emissions increase climate change, which affects the entire Earth.
Monet’s ‘Impression: Sun Rising’ aided in my understanding of how to “see the Anthropocene” (Mirzoeff 219). This image clearly exemplifies the obvious human changes made to Earth in its natural form. The focal point of the image should be the vast and beautiful expanse of ocean that occupies the lower half of the painting, but instead our eye is drawn to the rowboat in the foreground, the steamers to the left of this, and (most predominantly) the smog that forms the upper half of the image.