Visual Literacies

Simon Zoltan

What is the Project About? Who are the target audience? Is it interdisciplinary?
This project has evolved out of a prior long running suite of Inter-Disciplinary.Net conferences that focused on the term ‘Visual Literacy’. While retaining the former title as means of linking prior research and threads of ongoing foci, there is also an additional frame of reference that locates this core aspect with a more current understanding of where the field is heading. In discussing this overall domain, Gretchen Bakker (2015:205) begins her critique of this area with the statement: “Let us imagine ourselves.” Thus, this project will seek to take this statement as a core theme, asking accepted delegates to not only imagine how their work could evolve beyond their current interest and understanding, but also imagine how their work connects to those working in other fields. There are numerous concurrent and intersecting fields at this current time, which includes art history, practicing artists, art therapy, education, children’s literature, architecture, interior design, cartography and curators. This projects should then attract delegates from a range of fields and interests. It would appear that at this time it is the only interdisciplinary conference. While many of the previously mentioned areas are found within academe, past IDN experience clearly indicates that this overall focus also attracts practitioners and professionals working across and in this space. In the last project for example, interested parties who were practitioners also attended and there was a large set of presentations that were hands on and experiential. These latter points will be encouraged and promoted as being a key component of the new events. Thus the interdisciplinary nature of this project relates not only to the intersection of various disciplines, but also has a practical sense leading to an authentic sense of praxis and cross disciplinary connectivity.

What are the issues? What will be the outcomes?
There are several key issues in this field at the current time, with perhaps the most critical being the current debate related to the intersection and relationship between the academic processes of analyses applied within various fields, and the notion of aesthetic appreciation. While the term visual literacy is a term that tends to be embedded in most of the related fields, in itself there are debates concerning not only the discourse related to this term but the actual nature of its theoretical and practical application. The debates in this area as a whole are not polemic, and the call to ‘imagine’ possibilities and pathways in resolving the aesthetic-academic divide is a concerted effort to sincerely discuss and share possibilities. This even handed approach of ‘lets share and not debate through divides’ fits well with the ethos of IdNet. A clear program focus of this current proposal will be an examination of ‘imagining’ as well as issues that arise from within the actual discussions. In regard to the latter, the program will also include a collation of key issues, allocation of time to briefly discuss these as well as the possible formation of interdisciplinary research groups to continue the exploration. There is also the need to develop a Handbook on Visual Literacy as Interdisciplinary Praxis; and so a possible outcome could be a publication that extends the current IdNet publications into this set of research agendas. Indeed, if there is movement forward in this direction IdNet could set possible future research agendas for individual research domains, and the interdisciplinary dialogue of the fields as a whole.