Conclusion: Part 3 Visual Communications

Demonstration of subject based knowledge and understanding
Broad and comparative understanding of subject content, knowledge of the appropriate historical, intellectual, cultural or institutional contexts.

Having worked for professional multimedia design agencies for more than a decade as a project manager I had a head start with some of this section. Nonetheless I widened my knowledge and understanding considerably in the areas of

  • Design history in terms of the separation of manufacturing and design with the industrial revolution
  • Recontextualising images (I now have a deep interest in political collage by the likes of Peter Kennard and it links to my interest in signwriting).
  • Visual conventions for time and place – the opportunity to look at sequential storytelling at different times in history, through a variety of mediums using different conventions was fascinating and full of interesting discoveries, such as artist Brenda Fajardo’s 1989 rewriting of the history of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines using Tarot cards.

Demonstration of research skills
Information retrieval and organisation, use of IT to assist research, ability to evaluate IT sources, the ability to design and carry out a research project, locate and evaluate evidence from a wide range of primary and secondary sources (visual, oral, aural or textual).

A TED talk introduced me to The Google Arts and Culture website and this proved to be an invaluable tool for this part of the course. Wide open Google searches were overwhelming me with information on some of these topics and  I started to appreciate the value of tried and tested sources of accurate, validated material originating from respected museums, universities and galleries. This section tested my research skills and ability to cope with and organise a lot of information.

Demonstration of critical and evaluation skills
Engagements with concepts, values and debates, evidence of analysis, reflection, critical thinking, synthesis, interpretation in relation to relevant issues and enquiries.

Denotation, connotation and implied meaning and the importance of context in terms of  the receiver’s interpretation were particularly interesting areas of communications theory and relevant in terms of my evaluation skills. My confidence grows in this area along with my expanding knowledge and practice through the exercises, most of which I’ve found compelling.

I found myself thinking about design conflicts and believe that an awareness of these is sharpening my thinking and analysis:

  • Aesthetics versus functionality
  • Simplicity versus complexity / high decoration
  • Mass production (cheap) versus uniquely crafted (expensive)
  • Conspicuous consumption versus austerity

The ability to communicate ideas and knowledge in written and spoken form, including presentation skills.

My communication skills are steadily being refined as I work my way through Creative Arts Today. A course on Visual communications must of course contribute to improvements in this area. Most significantly, I feel I have gained an understanding of the importance of context e.g. state of mind, purpose, peer group, cultural background, social conventions, education, place and time of maker and viewer all influence visual, verbal and written messages whether art or other communications.

Ideas for my own practice and artists to continue researching:

  • The collages of Peter Kennard, Hannah Hoch and Martha Rosler. This ties in with my interest in the use of text in art and I am keen to introduce some collage into my drawing and painting. I’ll add to this the political collages of Gee Vaucher which I recently came across at an exhibition at Firstsite in Colchester.
  • Visual story telling – The Tarot card art of Brenda Fajardo and Robert Campbell’s visual storytelling of the history of Aboriginal people. I’ll add to this David Hockney’s views on the stark differences in the handling of perspective in Asian and European art (the continuous storytelling made possible with Chinese scrolls that because they have no vanishing point seem to keep going taking the viewer with them). Many things to experiment with in my own practice here.