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”.
Word Cloud of key words and phrases from ‘The Changing World’ (Chapter 6 of Mirzoeff’s ‘How to See the World’):
MindMap of key words from my chosen essay question:
By combining the key words and phrases that I drew from Chapter 6 with the key words and task words from the essay question, I was able to formulate a sense of the key ideas and issues that could be found in the chapter ‘The Changing World’ which would enable me to sufficiently answer my essay question:
The normalisation of pollution causes the public to form new, blurred perceptions of their environments that glaze over the changes taking place (Mirzoeff, 233). In 1912, people of all social classes who lived near the East River of New York were prepared to ignore the condition of the river so that they could continue using it as a dumping ground; a resource provided for their convenience (Mirzoeff, 234; Phelps et al., 1006). Eventually the pollution of the river became a normality and was no longer considered a problem (Mirzoeff, 234).
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.
Question 4: ‘The Changing World’ (Mirzoeff, Chapter 6. Pages 211-252)
This topic explores the negative effects/consequences of human interference with the natural environment and the living things that inhabit it; an interference which is fuelled by mankind’s desire to ‘conquer’, tame, or control nature. The question asks me to investigate and examine these effects/consequences, and the ways that artists are bringing these to the attention of the general public in order to change the way we behave towards our environment and all that occupies it.
Unlike the architect writer, I struggle to make a plan for my essay (or even drafts), and tend to “plunge” into my work as the diver writer does. However, I differ from the diver writer in that I usually have a fair idea of what my essay is going to be about before I begin. I do tend to cut out and add in material while in the process of writing an essay; chopping and changing out sentences as I develop my key points and alter my ideas. In this way, I take inspiration from the patchwork style of essay writing – although I don’t tend to make, revisit, or add to drafts. My ideas are almost fully-formed in my head before I write them down, and therefore they do not need to be “fitted together” with the kind of planning a patchwork writer requires.
I am, without a doubt, a grand plan writer. First and foremost, I like to examine every aspect of the essay brief to ensure I’m addressing as much of it as possible. Rigorous reading, research, and note-taking and retaking allows me to form a rough but coherent essay in my mind, which I’ll then write, revising as I go.
Reading that this was actually a common method of going about writing an essay was somewhat reassuring for me, as I had assumed the way I approached essay writing wasn’t very appropriate for the academic environment. Everybody else seemed to do large amounts of planning, drafting, and redrafting; something I’ve never felt the need to do.
The purpose of an analytic essay is to argue a particular point of view and convince the reader to adopt this view (Merk) by “defining the subject, exploring the subject, and drawing conclusions”(Clarke, 148).
The level of perception in an analytic essay is determined by the depth with which the student addresses the essay brief. This perception marks the difference between an analytic essay and other genres of academic writing. Informative or descriptive essays are straightforward “expository writings” (Merk), whereas an analytic essay requires the author to adopt critical thinking in order to examine, interpret and contextualise the essay topic/question (Clarke, 25, 148) and make a potent, convincing case around a belief that stems from this analysation (Lundberg).
The implicit requirements of an essay brief must be addressed in addition to those that are demanded outright (Clarke, 166). By combining one’s point of view regarding each of these aspects with research and evidence from the text one should be able to successfully construct a well-argued analytic essay (Clarke, 167).