Visual Literacy / Edition 1

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Post-industrial humankind is inundated daily with visual images. Televisions transmit their blue haze into dark living rooms; advertisements and billboards bombard us at every turn; movies evoke tears, outrage, or hilarity; and the visual arts elicit strong emotional or intellectual responses. At almost every moment, several visual images are warring for our attention in order to make a claim, sell a product, or call us to action. Faced with visual overload, how do we interpret these images? What is happening when a picture moves us? What process takes place in our minds as we respond to such visual devices as close-ups, camera angles, and flashbacks?This book provides a foundation for answering these questions. Encouraging his readers to become “visually literate,” Paul Messaris takes them on a journey through four major conceptual levels of understanding: imparting visual literacy as a prerequisite for comprehending visual media; creating awareness of the general cognitive consequences of visual literacy; making us alert to visual manipulation; and promoting aesthetic appreciation of the images we see. Taken together, these approaches provide a comprehensive view of how visual images are produced and interpreted, and of what their potential social consequences may be.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813319377
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Lexile: 1540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 0.51 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Messaris is associate professor of communication at The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He has conducted research on viewers’ awareness of visual manipulation in movies and advertising, and on parent-child discussions about television. He has also taught 16mm film production.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
1 Four Aspects of Visual Literacy 1
Still Images 9
Film and Television 14
Cognitive Consequences of Visual Literacy 21
Awareness of Artistry and Visual Manipulation 29
2 The Interpretation of Still Images 41
Abstract Representation 42
Concrete Representation 46
Empirical Evidence 60
3 The Interpretation of Film and Television 71
Point-of-View Editing 74
Editing as an Indicator of Thoughts and Emotions 86
The Modulation of Emphasis and Viewer Involvement 89
Beyond Point-of-View Editing 93
Propositional Editing 106
4 General Cognitive Consequences of Visual Literacy 113
Propositionality Revisited 113
Representational Categories and World Views 118
Spatial Intelligence 123
From Concrete to Abstract to Analogy 129
5 Awareness of Artistry and Manipulation 135
The Detection of Artifice 138
Unconcealed Artifice 147
Visual Manipulation 154
6 Conclusion: Other Questions, Other "Literacies" 165
Images and the Appearance of Reality 166
Images and Cultures 168
Familiarity with Visual Subject Matter 176
"Production Literacy" 180
References 185
About the Book and Author 201
Index 203
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