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Re: [xmca] Fwd: Visual literacy? Surf an art museum - Lifestyle - SignOnSanDiego.com

No doubt, Jenna.  And forms like Youtube allow for users to be producers in
a big way. But I see no need to knock museums and
the pleasures of "reading" paintings that have endured over a long time!
(The cost can be pretty steep these days though).

The "learning to see" theme runs through a lot of CHAT-related work, and
seems an endless source of insights.

One way I find that i can learn a lot about paintings is by doing jig-saw
puzzles. Jackson Pollock seemed a total fraud to me until i had, with lots
of friendly gossipy help, done a quite complex puzzle of one of his big
canvases. Now jig-saw puzzles require their own
form of visual literacy, but what was amazing (a Klimpt also provided a
similar experience) was that I actually began to see nuances in the
paintings that i had simply never seen before. And once seen, the ability to
see more deeply, at least for the given painting (after all generalization
of the skill is a huge undertaking!)
it sticks with you along with the belief of the possibility that, say,
a Russian 18th century icon may contain the potential for visual experiences
that my naive eye, loving the combination of colors and shapes, could not

I hear what you are saying that I am seeing.

PS. Have you met Etienne Pelaprat, a great grad student here at
UCSD, formerly in cogsci but completing degree in Comm, who has moved to
your fair city? If not, you should. He is rumored to be the sometime savior
of xmca through his technical skills.

On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 4:25 PM, Jenna McWilliams <jenmcwil@umail.iu.edu>wrote:

> Mike, you write:
> "I managed a D+ in my one obligatory art producing class in college (a work
> later exhibited, by some really odd
> error, in a show of student art which makes one wonder at the judgments
> involved on either side of the
> process!). I am a hopeless plastic arts producer. But not entirely
> illiterate as a reader, finder of meanings."
> It's fair enough to argue that reading and writing are not equivalent forms
> of literacy. But in this crazy multimodal culture of ours, where reading and
> writing both require adeptness with design proficiencies (remember that even
> the text we read on the screen is a digital product--the 'translation' of
> code into a specifically designed visual format that we can interpret), what
> we call "visual literacy" is increasingly an essential component of BOTH
> reading and writing. Visual literacy goes far beyond what we learned in art
> class--the color wheel and all that.
> In fact, it seems a little strange to link visual literacy to museumgoing.
> I bombed art class right along with the best of them, and success in art
> class still wouldn't have prepared me to engage in the sorts of
> communications platforms that have become the most significant message
> delivery systems. Indeed, design and visual literacy (or whatever you want
> to call them) skills are so embedded in communication platforms that I find
> myself making design decisions without a thought (as when I re-formatted the
> chunk I quoted from the previous email in this thread, because when I pasted
> it in the line breaks got all funky--distracting for the reader!). I don't
> know if the fact that visual literacy (or whatever you want to call it) is
> embedded within reading and writing literacy practices strengthens or weaken
> the case for calling it a form of literacy; I only know that it's both
> important and different enough from reading and writing skills to deserve
> its own label, if only so we know how to talk about it.
> visually,
> jenna
> ~~
> Jenna McWilliams
> Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University
> ~
> http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com
> http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com
> ~
> jenmcwil@indiana.edu
> jennamcjenna@gmail.com
> On Dec 21, 2009, at 7:06 PM, mike cole wrote:
>  The addition of production to definitions of literacy is always a good
>> move
>> in my view, Jay. Reading is not equivalent to writing. In the case of
>> visual
>> literacy and museum art, it seems like what is being referred to is the
>> reading half. At least i hope so. I managed a D+ in my one obligatory art
>> producing class in college (a work later exhibited, by some really odd
>> error, in a show of student art which makes one wonder at the judgments
>> involved on either side of the
>> process!). I am a hopeless plastic arts producer. But not entirely
>> illiterate as a reader, finder of meanings.
>> There is, a few blocks from you apartment, a show at the SD Museum of
>> Contemporary Art by Tera Donavan. I think you will find it as fascinating
>> as
>> I did. I plan to take the family during their visit. Donovan take everyday
>> objects (tar paper, straws, cups, and more) and creates installations with
>> thousand of only one object aggregated in the most fantastic ways. She
>> states her goal as wanting to explore the properties of objects seens as
>> parts of very large populations rather than as individual objects. The
>> effects she achieves are mind boggling with the play of light and texture
>> over surface sufficient to reorder our perceptions in ways we could never
>> anticipate.Again, art as tertiary artifact, re-admired.
>> Since you have written more on time scales, I'll stay away from the topic
>> in
>> general; we have agreed too often here to warrant repitition.
>> But quite specifically, our work in creating the "Fifth Dimension" was to
>> be
>> able to study changes in a pre-pared system of activity over a long time
>> period (from inception to death) at several scales of time. The idea was
>> part of our interest in the failure of "successful" educational
>> innovations
>> to be sustained-- how did they die and why and how did their implementers
>> enter in to and respond to the process. Still wrestling with analysis--
>> lots
>> of 5thD's were born and died but others keep being born. Some are, today,
>> strikingly like their originals in the 1980's, others have morphed so that
>> only a few features remain. The children participants, who are almost
>> impossible to track over time are now adults -- i sometime encounter one
>> at
>> ucsd. The college participants are parents I sometimes hear from. All
>> recorded in their fieldnotes written at the time. I have some money salted
>> away so that "when it dies" (or if i can manage to retire before doing so
>> myself) I will have the full range of instances documented and a lot of
>> the
>> data in digital form,
>> so that I can look at that object from both ends of its history. A
>> preliminary report is in the book, *The Fifth Dimension*.
>> As to LCHC, that is another matter. It seems to me a certainty that it
>> will
>> die. It had a near-death experience a couple of years ago. As a way of at
>> least marking its passing, a number of former and current members of the
>> lab
>> are in the process of creating a book that traces its origins and the many
>> offspring it has generated. THAT collective narrative I hope to live long
>> enough to see come into being.
>> Now if Yuan or anyone would like to see LCHC live, proposals for how to
>> arrange that would of course be seriously entertained, and perhaps maybe
>> even entertaining! I thought I saw a nibble at collaboration on making
>> a more powerful medium the other day, but it turned out to be a  mirage.
>> So
>> for now, we keep on keeping on.
>> mike
>> On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM, Jay Lemke <jaylemke@umich.edu> wrote:
>>> Thanks for the link, Mike. Was nice to see someone in the mass media,
>>> affiliated with a newspaper no less, arguing for critical visual literacy
>>> to
>>> protect us from advertising!
>>> Of course that is an old idea in visual education circles, and it can
>>> build
>>> on the widespread folk-skepticism toward advertising. Unfortunately the
>>> more
>>> pernicious effects in ads are probably at subtler levels than what basic
>>> visual literacy skills can foreground.
>>> "The ability to find meaning in images" is the definition of visual
>>> literacy used. That seems a little too basic. I think everyone finds
>>> meaning
>>> in images, with or without any literacy education. Maybe there is an
>>> implied
>>> emphasis on FIND, in the sense of digging below the surface/obvious,
>>> which
>>> would be better. But more recent ideas in the field put more emphasis on
>>> visual production relative to interpretation, so I'd probably go with a
>>> definition more like "the skills of making meaning with visual resources,
>>> for your own purposes", and include in that the meaning-making we do with
>>> others' images by way of interpretation, critique, etc.
>>> Have you ever noticed that when anyone, docent, tourguide, or just me,
>>> speaks authoritatively about a painting in a museum, that many bystanders
>>> seem to become interested in listening? People generally seem to believe
>>> that art images, at least, require some professional interpretation or
>>> benefit from having specialist knowledge (esp. historical). People also
>>> seem
>>> to enjoy visual interpretation more than textual. Textual interpretation
>>> is
>>> seen as superfluous, even obstructing to enjoyment of the work. No one
>>> really reads literary criticism, or book reviews beyond the "it's good"
>>> part. But people are fascinated by the exegesis of visual works. The is
>>> one
>>> basis for the popularity of the DaVinci Code and similar popular works.
>>> And there is not a word about visual interpretation skills in our
>>> standard
>>> curricula (meaning as practiced in schools, there are some nods in the
>>> official standards).
>>> JAY.
>>> Jay Lemke
>>> Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
>>> Educational Studies
>>> University of Michigan
>>> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>>> www.umich.edu/~jaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke> <
>>> http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke>
>>> Visiting Scholar
>>> Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
>>> University of California -- San Diego
>>> La Jolla, CA
>>> USA 92093
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