VISUAL LITERACY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Štúdia 4. 02. 2019, Božena Šupšáková

The dominance of the pictorial world forms the beginning of the effect of new visual civilisation in the 21st century. Today, we already know that photograph, film and television are just fist stage of visual era. The modern phenomena of digitalisation and mass communication related to the development of information and communication technologies and Internet, dramatically saturate the pictures and pictorial messages to public space and thus also to our everyday life. Posters, billboards and various visual posts attack us every day with their pictorial messages, trying to influence us while going to the work or school as well as while being on the road for a joy or relax. The presence of visual impulses is perceived also in the public space, for example in shopping malls. In such an environment, their role is to affect our purchasing habits. The information lettering in pictorial form -iconograms- orientate us on the streets, at the stations of mass transport, at the airports, in shopping malls, in tourism regions. Today, Internet and social networks are mainly the source of information mediated in the form of pictures in multimedia form. In the contemporary world, heavily saturated with pictures and media, our view of what literacy means must be extended, or even re-defined. To read pictures is more than to read and write text, this is the "reading of the world of pictures". The Kaiser Family Foundation Study implies young people devote still greater attention to the pictures in the new media (Internet and social networks). While this was six hours and twenty-one minutes a day in average in 2009, it is seven hours and thirty-eight minutes a day in 2013. The numerical data say there has been a significant shift for 4 years and young people pay greater attention to pictorial information, they devote more of their time to them, by one hour and seventeen minutes. We may state that the use of new media has been intensified for recent 10 years, thus also time capacity devoted to media by young people has been increased too, save one exception – the interest in reading has decreased, yet it still consider it to be the basic, non-excludable literacy. Saying it in more unambiguously, text reading gets to the background and the first place is attained by reading, or perception of pictures in digital media. In the article we present a theoretical model of visual literacy and develop new personnel competencies of children for the 21st century, such as visual perception, visual thinking, visual language and learning visual literacy. Keywords: visual perception, visual thinking, visual language, learning visual literacy

 

Pictures form our everyday experience and lead to the development of the new forms of perception, sensitivity, thinking and understanding of the world. We shift from the verbal perception of reality to the visual perception of reality. In this regards, it is important to define and also specify three typological criteria of an image: function, localisation and technique. Of course, the image fulfils in particular the artistic, information, documentary and advertising function. The technical implementation in the context of the perception of an image as an artefact relates to painting, graphics and sculpture. Also to photograph, film and television images, to the modern digital images and multimedia. Their common feature is the manifold reproductions, where the difference between the original and the copy is wiped out in many cases (this especially relates to digital image). Of course, the localisation of an image relates to a place, a public space, such as the gallery, street, arcade, cultural event, television broadcast or Internet.

Today, we may speak of three historical eras, with the characteristic feature of the prevailing culture: the oral, verbal and visual era. The oral era relates to the spoken expression, the human communications takes place by means of spoken word in it. In this era, the communication space is strictly limited, since the transfer and exchange of information take place "vis-à-vis“ – face to face. Second era is related to the discovery of script, and especially book printing, which means all information; human experience and observed phenomena may be spread out to even greater group of recipients, to deliver them from generation to generation. Script and press dynamism the propagation of information and assist with the mass character of culture. In third, visual era, the important role in the interpersonal communication is played by picture. It is the propagator of messages, news and experience, yet mostly emotions, artistic and aesthetic value. An image is something that can be handled by senses, that may be decoded, but it also has an impact on subconscious. It may be read as a text, analytically and in parts, but it may influence the recipient also synthetically in the form of an unbroken idea.

The dominance of the pictorial world forms the beginning of the effect of new visual civilisation in the 21st century. Today, we already know that photograph, film and television are just fist stage of visual era. The modern phenomena of digitalisation and mass communication related to the development of information and communication technologies and Internet, dramatically saturate the pictures and pictorial messages to public space and thus also to our everyday life. Posters, billboards and various visual posts attack us every day with their pictorial messages, trying to influence us while going to the work or school as well as while being on the road for a joy or relax. The presence of visual impulses is perceived also in the public space, for example in shopping malls. In such an environment, their role is to affect our purchasing habits. The information lettering in pictorial form -iconograms- orientate us on the streets, at the stations of mass transport, at the airports, in shopping malls, in tourism regions. Today, Internet and social networks are mainly the source of information mediated in the form of pictures in multimedia form. We can not only watch but also create video messages and films on the biggest worldwide Internet portal YouTube we send MMS via smartphones, and we take photos and record videos using the intelligent mobile phones. Another example of digitisation and mass communication is web page Pinterest allowing the users to create thematic sets of pictures or photos free of charge. Of course, the contemporary visual expression may be disputable as long as its functionality is concerned. Many times, we are the witnesses of the origin of the world of "hyper-reality" or virtual reality where experience, real pictures or products are replaced with the virtual ones. The immersion into the new "world" is not investigated to such an extent that we would be able to assess the impact of "hyper-reality" onto the emotional and rational world of a human.

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