4th Global Conference
Wednesday 7th July 2010 – Friday 9th July 2010
Mansfield College, Oxford
Reading Gestures and Reading Codes: The Visual Literacy of Graffiti as both Physical/Performative Act and Digital Information Text
University of Toronto,Toronto, Canada
Graffiti invites readers to visually interpret the intentionally created signs and symbols that construct its form in collaboration with the physical and virtual information that mark its presence. Graffiti is a performance of marking various points of contact between individuals and the world whether they are a celebration of existence or a declaration of resistance. Visual literacy within the context of reading graffiti is embodied within the performance of bearing witness to another’s existence as well as reading texts that present information through visual codes in relation to the ever-changing socio-cultural and physical/virtual contexts where it is found. Researchers Halsey & Young (2006) found that graffiti writers experience spaces haptically rather than optically. Our readings then require a literacy that is embodied and informed by a spatial awareness of how changing our position in relation to what we see, either physically or virtually, affects the way we use the codes provided. While the images before us may be infused with meanings they are also physical traces of performance. Our readings become physically and haptically embodied, which we then re-perform as virtual tourists using coded information of an archival kind in cyberspace. Reading graffiti requires that we use conventions however temporary, to understand our relation to the visual, virtual and haptic codes, no matter how informal, recognizable, abstract or foreign they appear. This paper uses graffiti texts experienced as both physical manifestations and as virtually archived information to address the following questions: how does visual literacy develop in counter-normative pedagogical contexts (those places and spaces that offer pedagogical moments outside traditionally perceived ways of learning), how does our developing visual literacy shift between physical and virtual contexts and do these visual marks of existence escape or proliferate literacy analysis?
Views from the Water’s Edge: The Impact of Images in Communicating Perspectives of Climate Change
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
This paper demonstrates how the visual research methodology, Photovoice, was employed to elicit the values and concerns of three different groups about being ‘at the water’s edge’ in times of uncertainty due to climate change. It examines the ways in which participants used a primarily visual mode of communication to convey multi-layered messages. The paper considers how principles of visual literacy and visual communication were employed to generate meanings, and investigates the impact of these images in communicating both individual and shared perspectives. This multi-disciplinary research was undertaken within the bi-annual Floating Land environmental art event, held at Boreen Point Australia in June 2009, which explored the theme of climate change and rising sea levels on coastal and island communities. The Photovoice method involves the use of participants’ photos, which are contextualised through group discussion and clarified with text, to communicate about specific issues to a wider audience. It has been applied in various fields to provide insights into shared values with the goal of informing broader society and facilitating community change. However, there is a gap in the literature concerning the impact and effectiveness of the chosen images as communication vehicles, which this research investigates. Images can operate as powerful forms of communication as they contain signs which convey multiple levels of meaning. Although photos may provide clarity and richly layered messages they can also be ambiguous, while social, cultural and environmental factors can also affect ways in which images are interpreted . By comparing the perspectives of three different groups with potentially differing degrees of visual literacy – residents, festival visitors, and participating artists – and examining the impact of the selected photographs, this paper considers the effectiveness of images as a mode of communication in conveying concerns about issues of local and global relevance.
The Reaffirmation of the Embodied Experience of the Visual
Griffith University, Queensland, Australia
Today’s visual experience can be seen as largely a sedentary Cartesian one which denies the body. The formation of identity, it is said by embodiment theorists, is dependent on being able to position the human body in relation to the surrounding environment. The aim of this paper is to reassert the embodied experience of the visual in order to heal the mind body split that reduces our human potential. Several works will be examined using as a framework the concepts of phenomenology based on the original notions of Merleau-Ponty. By examining the white horse chalk representations in the landscape of west country England and the work of contemporary artist Ron Mueck as objects of knowing, the potential of the corporeal understanding of visual images will be highlighted. The original purpose of the white horses together with our current perceptions will be outlined. The white horse of Uffington for example was constructed over two thousand years ago, and one of the most recent, the Alton Barnes horse in 1812. The life-like human sculptures of artist Ron Meuck will then be explored for their specific propensity to illicit an embodied response through his manipulation of scale. Lastly by the inclusion of my own practice based research that involves the construction of miniatures from everyday objects including children’s toys, the potency of the embodied experience of the visual will be further illuminated. The outcomes are intended to inform visual discourse by enhancing the understanding of visual literacy with further broader ramifications for the well being of contemporary culture.