Maps make things real for us, “every map facilitates some living by virtue of its ability to grapple with what is known instead of what is merely seen, what is understood rather than what is no more than sensed” (Wood, 7). Because maps are visually engaging and the physicality that comes with it, this creates something more concrete and understood, or real. “We are always mapping the invisible or the unattainable or the erasable, the future or the past, the whatever-is-not-here-present-to-our-senses now and, through the gift that the map gives us, transmuting it into everything it is not…into the real” (Wood, 5). When something is mapped out it holds a truth making it real.
Maps provide us with a way of constructing knowledge and understanding the world around us. Wood acknowledges that the purpose of maps is to “present us not with the world we can see, but to point toward a world we might know” (12). Further, the knowledge represented through maps cannot be taken as Truth because all cartographers create maps through their own lens with which they understand the world. That is, we must consider “the agency of the mapper” to examine potential biases that are inevitably embodied through maps (Wood 24). [NW]
- Visual knowing is a knowing in relationship—relationships of movement. The eyes constantly move, discerning depth. Marks across a surface create contours and define relationships of interiority and exteriority and of impressions between marks, viewers, situations. These impressions are a seeing, but a seeing this is always a seeing like that. We see from vantage points that can vary, but are always creating gaps even as they create new relationships (Sousanis, p. 72-74, 150). [TP]
We understand new concepts by drawing on what we already know, so this new knowledge is constructed by bringing together the similar and dissimilar. This visual process allows us to draw connections through many different, subjective views. Therefore, we constantly create perception, which is invaluable to thought. These multiple thoughts and perceptions provide us with multidimensional sight; thus, a good seer is a good thinker (Sousanis 81-82). [HD]
“In seeking new approaches for opening expansive spaces and awakening possibilities, let us look to our ways of seeing themselves, and how, quite literally, the means to create perspective lies right between our eyes. The distance separating our eyes means that there is a difference between the view each produces- thus there is no single, “correct” view. (Sousanis 31).
Perspective in visual rhetorics is an invitation for viewers to have a say [and know it will count] during the process of critiquing images. When perspective is not accounted for as a step in a visual rhetorical analysis, new interpretations and discoveries become unknown and will never be accounted for.
Who is the individual within an interpretation? “The notion that the most important
aspect in understanding a visual image is what its maker intended to show is sometimes called auteur theory. However, most of the recent work on visual matters is uninterested in the intentionality of an image’s maker” (Rose, 22-23). Yet it doesn’t seem we can forget the individual without removing their agency. If intent is disregarded, does the individual lose their seat at the negotiation? But. “This doesn’t mean erasing or ignoring differences. Instead, it’s a complex dynamic, what Simeon Dreyfuss calls ‘holding different ways of knowing in relationship.’ in recognizing that our solitary standpoint is limited, we come to embrace another’s viewpoint as essential to our own” (Sousanis, 38).
A humanistic approach to product design, usability testing, and artifact development allows designers to explain and improve the rhetorical aspects of generative knowledge design. Although Internet users experience complex cultural, geographical, and spatial networked relationships, these experiences go unnoticed and misunderstood. As Drucker discusses in Graphesis, with a humanistic perspective, the designer can ask: “How can we create fragmented and correlated points of view that connect one mode of analysis and display to another in a way that makes their connections legible?” (189). [LW]
March 6, 2017
Big Ideas in Visual Rhetoric
Pine Point https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IikS9nDyFUo
Simons and Shoebridge’s Welcome to Pine Point is a powerful melancholic interactive web documentary about a vanished town in Canada. By using different visual tools, Super-8 film clips, text on screen, real life people’s pictures and artifacts, along with background music, they created the feeling of lost childhood happiness in that vanished neighborhood. The web documentary is full of sadness and sorrow for the lost childhood happiness and “the creators’ ineffable nostalgia for it”. [SK]
“We established this style of visual experience where there are no ads, no page numbers… a style of magazine layout you could almost call “cinematic”. It’s a perfect balance of passive and active, of visuals and words–a story about memory than a town profile” (Simons & Shoebridge). [SK]
Visualizations are concrete representations of abstract ideals, such as time or relationships. The image does not exist on its own, but as an interpretation of a subject beyond itself. Because of this, the visual also alludes to the connections between different aspects of the represented relationships. Choices of color, structure, type, and other dimensions illustrate how different abstract elements combine and diverge in the outside world. Designers, therefore, have to take this into account when designing graphics: connections between different graphical elements hold implications towards the connections of their real-life counterparts [CJR].
“Conceptualized as a communicative artifact, visual rhetoric is the actual image rhetors generate when they use visual symbols for the purpose of communicating” (Foss 143). “Not every visual object is visual rhetoric. What turns a visual object into a communicative artifact, a symbol that communicates and can be studied as rhetoric- is the presence of three characteristics. The image must be symbolic, involve human intervention, and be presented to an audience for the purpose of communicating with that audience. (Foss 144).