Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reading: Anatomy of a Visual Message

The Dondis, A Primer of Visual Literacy, reading discussed three methods of communication: Representational, Abstract, and Symbolic. These elements offer both manner and means which can work together in an intelligent, dynamic way.

Representational is the most effective way to communicate an idea that includes portrayal of factual information, a direct report of details in many forms. This is often seen in the form of a photograph or film and can also be seen in realistic painting. The information represented is gathered from what we see in the environment and our experiences.

The approach of communicating information visually through symbols is the idea of ultimate simplicity and the reduction of visual detail. It has the ability to reinforce a message or meaning in a number of ways (print, poster, magazine) and interacts with the viewer. It is full of arbitrarily coded symbol systems that have attached meanings assigned by man.

Abstraction is said to be the "primary tool in the development of a visual plan". This approach allows the viewer and creator to ask questions of composition and structural forces as well as rely on pure visual elements. It also leaves room for experimentation within the design. It is the inclusion of only the basic elemental visual components resulting with a "kinesthetic quality" that allows emotional and "primitive message-making means."

The key to perception lies in the fact that the whole creative process seems to reverse for the receiver of the visual message. First he sees the visual facts, and then the subject of the compositional content such as basic elements and techniques. If the relationship of their interaction is too ambiguous to the viewer, then the design is unsuccessful.

Design Writing Research gives Lupton's post-modern response to Dondis' previously stated ideas. She states how books, such as A Primer of Visual Literacy, discuss the perception of a design while sacrificing the way that it is interpreted. The aesthetic, subjective experience opposed to the how the viewer will process the information. Dondis presents the three methods with a sort of universal approach that don't take into account the culture and literacy of the viewer.

There is a great deal to take into account as the first stage of our next project commences. Creating specifically in a symbolic and abstract manner I will consider what each of the readings have brought to the process of visual communication.

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