Emergence of a new paradigm for studying all forms of visual culture as parts of a cross-media system
Some Key Points to Consider
- “Visual Culture” studies recognizes the predominance of visual forms of media, communication, and information in the postmodern world.
- Has there been a social and cultural shift to the visual, over against the verbal and textual, in the past 50 years, and has it been accelerating in the past 10 or 20 years?
- Or are our written, textual, and visual systems continuing an ongoing reconfiguration in a new (recognizable) phase?
- Study of visual culture merges popular and “low” cultural forms, media and communications, and the study of “high” cultural forms or fine art, design, and architecture.
- “Visual Studies” intersects with the notion of “mediasphere” in mediology, the study of media systems and media as a system.
- Getting clear on terms: “visual” | “culture” | “system”
- The “visual culture” approach acknowledges the reality of living in a world of cross-mediation–our experience of culturally meaningful visual content appears in multiple forms, and visual content and codes migrate from one form to another:
- print images and graphic design
- TV and cable TV
- film and video in all interfaces and playback/display technologies
- computer interfaces and software design
- Internet/Web as a visual platform
- digital multimedia
- advertising in all media (a true cross-media institution)
- fine art and photography
- architecture, design, and urban design
- We learn the codes for each form and code switch among the media and the “high” and “low” culture forms.
- The experience of everyday life can be described as code-switching or hacking the visual codes around us to navigate and negotiate meaning (see William Gibson, Pattern Recognition).
- But: Important to deconstruct potential visual/textual binary opposition: most of our experience of media is a hybrid of texts, images, and sounds, rather than pure states of any one mode. [Barbara Kruger’s image/text art strategies: 1|2|3 | Ed Ruscha’s word art | ]
- Challenge is studying visual culture as a system, but not as a pure state of visuality (i.e. a system of visual meanings that are not purely imagistic–not formed only of images–but include texts and graphic design, design of functional object, architecture, logos.
- Cases studies: W and Vogue | Rhizome.org (examples of digital images, text, design)
Visual Culture and Institutions of Meaning
Visual Culture Produced by / Embedded in Social Institutions