I was looking through our Visual Literacy schedule today, wondering (like any responsible student) what was coming due, when I noticed a link on last week's activities called "Signs." At first, I thought it was something related to the presentation that my friend and fellow classmate Lauren and I had given on February 20 for Visual Verbal Relationships. But, it wasn't. It was a Youtube video that Magda had evidently placed in the schedule to support the topics of that week. So, from the video's title, I assumed that it would be all about pictorial signs, using picture symbols to show meaning and establish communication between different parties. However, I was surprised to find that my assumption was quite wrong. Directed by Patrick Hughes, "Signs" was a sweet, unexpected short film. The focus was not on pictorial signs in place of words, but actual signs with words written on them, read by the main character Jason, and the woman he meets named Stacey. Like one of the comments on the Youtube video said, they told a more beautiful love story than Twilight did in 90 minutes!
I think that we often over-simplify communication, and we under-think about it. To an average American, at least those that I've encountered, we take words for granted. We don't realize what an affect/effect they can have on those around us, or individuals in particular. In the video, Jason is going about his hum-drum day without anything to interest or motivate him. That is, until Stacey throws herself into his life with her simple sign "Take a photo." To Jason, this sentenced might have seemed sardonic and abrasive, something that we would expect from a person who might want to be left alone. Yet, when Jason's face indicated that he was flustered and troubled by her first comment (as a result of not hearing vocal tone or inflection), Stacey followed with another sign, "I'm kidding!" Then Jason was able to understand that Stacey was interested in a conversation, which was confirmed by Stacey showing a written sign of her name. After the conversation was initiated, it continued with both Jason and Stacey communicating with one another only by written signs through windows across buildings. Though the words that these two exchanged were on a very simple level, they contained a lot of meaning because of the intentions of the parties involved.
Think about how many times we text without even thinking about how what we say could possibly be misconstrued! Now think about how even though words are valuable tools, how simply we can communicate when we need to. My friend Colin and I were watching the German film "M" from director Fritz Lang earlier today, and Colin commented that he could usually understand children's German more easily than adults. I said that it was probably because of the simplified language and increased non-verbals that children utilized, because to an extent they're still learning and getting a hang of the language. Sometimes speech is not even necessary; when you want to deeply communicate something, and you can't think of words, signs (like faces, gestures, motions and body language) save the day.
Can you think of any instances where non-verbalized communication actually serves a more useful purpose than verbal communication? Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn't think of the right words to say, until someone else said something first? Do you think that Stacey and Jason actually grew closer because they had to "meet" in this fashion?