Monday, January 30, 2012

AHA! Street Art Making Bold Statements
I have to admit, I’ve really gotten obsessed with street art lately. From a visual literacy standpoint, I think street art displays a wide array of communication styles, from textual to completely image based. Sometimes this art is just depicted in gorgeous, colorful, larger-than-life images projected onto sidewalks, the sides of buildings, or other city structures. Other times street art can be ordinary everyday objects manipulated and touched up to represent something new. And then there are instances where a simple word sketched in a certain font, at a specific place in full view, that can make the most striking statements.

The way we see things affects our thoughts and emotions, really anything. For a bit of “fun” reading right now, I’ve been reading Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined, a book about physical appearance and the way in which it affects our perception of others. To me, this really related to the perception that we experience in looking at messages, images and objects in our daily lives, because the way something looks is usually the first information we use to 
construct meaning about said subject.


With street art, we’re given these images that have been created to make a bold statement for the public. What the statement is varies; it’s always about getting the image out there for all to see, so that the message can be interpreted by us, the perceiver. The process for this creation mirrors the process described in our Visual Literacy textbook. Artists, like Banksy for example, are the source of the message. They develop what message (thought, concept, ideology) they want to communicate, they visualize and translate this message and apply the design process of turning the thought into a graphic form. Then Banksy works with his his main medium and location, whatever these may be (he's a versatile guy) and actually creates the street art graphic. Audiences of those who pass by, who seek out this art, or are looking at it through secondary mediums (Internet) receive the messages of the graphic, and interpret it for themselves. With street art, it's all about interpretation. People put things in public places for others to SEE. And everything we perceive, everything our eyes meet, we interpret.

Monday, January 23, 2012

AHA! Visual Symbols in My Life

The Ministry of Type
We look around and see things in our lives every day. We read ads, billboards, brochures, magazines, weblinks emails hypertext textmessages letters codes signs signals everything.

The visual symbols in my life very well affect how I live and behave on a day to day basis. Especially as a college student, I interact with unending amounts of visual symbols serving the purpose of connecting me with people, places, objects and ideas. 

I use visual symbols all the time, meaning I perceive and interpret the symbols to understand different messages and concepts. I work at Rod library on campus at UNI, and we use all kinds of visual symbols, often along with text, to communicate library expectations. Where no food/drink is allowed, we use icons to reiterate our point. When I go out and I see signs for Starbucks, or the Target logo, or even street signs like "Stop" or "Yield," meaning is triggered almost more from the image itself than the words that accompany it. 

I think in today's world, one absolutely must possess high familiarity with and skills within the realm of visual literacy. It is pertinent to understand the importance of this type of ability in people, because in a culture that is rather obsessed with visuals (ads, logos, appearances, celebrity, etc), it is a driving force behind our interactions. 

This semester in Visual Literacy, I hope to become more familiar with the concept as a whole, and also really gain an understanding of how images can function in conjunction with my own classroom material. I hope to also gain knowledge of design principals, visual literacy standards, and some of the technology that assists artists and designers in their creation. Finally, I would like to get into the more creative process that is involved in generating images, because I think learning more about visual literacy will help me become more confident to experiment with digital art. 

Think of the way we refer to things as "iconic." The root word here is "icon." Things are iconic because they have become symbols, most often visual, or representatives of a general category. When we see certain symbols, we automatically know what they stand for, because we have brought up in a culture (at least I have, born in 1990 and growing up in the 90's and 2000s) that absolutely thrives on these visuals. You could say that this McDonalds logo could represent FOOD. You know when you see this logo that there is one general thing this place offers, and when you think of it, it automatically represents itself. 


Take UNI's very popular and campus-wide symbol "UNIam..." As much as I am sick of this logo (no offense to its designers or promoters), it is widely recognized as representative of the University. 

Iowa Hawkeyes
Perhaps even more recognizable and unmistakable is this: 

I don't even have to tell you what this image represents. In Iowa, you know it, in the U.S. you probably know it if you're a football fan, and around the world, you'll at least be able to recognize that this is some type of bird. 

And any of these symbols you'll be able to attach some meaning to, whether it is arbitrarily assigned by society, or for its literal representation. 

Often, people won't stop to read text that is designated as a warning or information. People want to "glance and go" and not have to spend time decoding text for meaning. However, we DO use text to perform the same functions as images and icons, and we favor certain types of text over others. Letters are individual icons, the combinations of which we call words, that make up our entire written language code. I'd like to note that after watching the first film on our movie list, I'm typing this post in Helvetica. "And Helvetica says everything, and that's perhaps part of its appeal," (Jonathan Hoefler).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CCA: Will You Live Up to My Expectations?

Classroom Computer Applications. CCA. That class you take right after Ed Tech and Design, but before all your other tech classes, if you're smart. A course designed to help us learn about using project-based learning in conjunction with technology to engage and encourage students. Right? Well, I took several other technology classes for my minor BEFORE getting to take this course, and I have to say, I'm very excited for it. I'm more excited for it because I know that I can apply the skills I have gained from my other tech courses to this one, and expand on my knowledge. From what I've seen in the 4 classes we've had so far this semester, we're all in for one heck of a journey full of creative discovery.

My main expectation for CCA is this: I expect to learn about different approaches to designing project-based learning activities that I can apply directly to my English classrooms in the future. Specifically, I want to find some unique methods of integrating real-world types of activities into and English setting, so students can connect their own experiences and prior knowledge to the new things they are learning about. I expect my classmates to come with open minds and the willingness to get creative, and collaborative! I expect my professor (that's you Dr. Z) to provide us with the scaffolding (whoa, pedagogy word! but seriously) we need to see how the tools we're introduced to in class can indeed be applied to our classrooms.

Out of all my courses this semester, I think I really am most excited for this one. And it's because of the nature of the class, the hand-on, collaborative, creative work that we'll be doing, that separates it from my other courses. Hey, isn't that what we're learning about?!?!