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Visual Literacy: How we Interpret Images


by Alan Melson 3 Jun 2008

How does visual literacy relate to how we interpret the images we see daily? Depending on which of a multitude of sources we could cite, most people in so–called developed modern societies encounter between 3,000 and 4,500 visual messages every day. Between half-and two-thirds of these are transmitted to us through television screens or computer […]

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How does visual literacy relate to how we interpret the images we see daily?

Depending on which of a multitude of sources we could cite, most people in so–called developed modern societies encounter between 3,000 and 4,500 visual messages every day. Between half-and two-thirds of these are transmitted to us through television screens or computer monitors, and they come to us in real time from sources all over the world. These visual messages can be comprised of gestures, objects, signs and symbols, or systems that combine some or all of these.

We make thousands of personal judgments every day based on how we have been conditioned to decode meaning from hairstyles, interior design, what people wear and how they wear it, automotive styling, computer games, the interface designs of Web sites, advertising, architecture and the way people walk, speak and assume physical postures.

We now “read” all of these indicators in a manner that allows us to convert information into what we believe is knowledge that we can act upon much more quickly than we ever have. The store of internal image-based information we now can access is more broadly and eclectically informed than it has ever been, whether we’re comfortable with this or not.

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