Let’s Get Visual!

I think the main factor of a lot of things that I enjoy is the visual side of it. Agreed? Although I do like reviewing books (watch this space), for me, there is also importance in graphic novels, things like Wreck this Journal, art books, photography books, illustrations etc. because I wholeheartedly believe that without this, I wouldn’t love creative writing so much.

Although I love creative writing and books that sometimes the visual aspect of books and publications are so overlooked on a ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ that it isn’t discussed in too much detail. I think through my website, I want to write about our visual world and I want to make comments on not only what I’m reading, but what I am seeing and the impact that has.

From a website that got its information from www.billiondollargraphics.com/infographics.html, it points out the importance of visuals and the impact we don’t sometimes realise they have upon ourselves and/or our lives.

It is understandable from a basic point that visuals are more profound upon an audience than words or text. However, the reason for this seems to be from these two websites is that we take in visuals simultaneously and almost all at once, whereas text has to be processed in our brains in a sequence, taking longer to ‘digest’ that information for us to respond to. It is even said that visuals are taken in 60,000 times faster than text!

Graphics do what text alone cannot do. They quickly affect us both cognitively and emotionally:

1) Cognitively: “Graphics expedite and increase our level of communication. They increase comprehension, recollection, and retention. Visual clues help us decode text and attract attention to information or direct attention increasing the likelihood that the audience will remember”.

2) Emotionally: “Pictures enhance or affect emotions and attitudes. Graphics engage our imagination and heighten our creative thinking by stimulating other areas of our brain (which in turn leads to a more profound and accurate understanding of the presented material). It is no secret that emotions influence decision-making.”


5-sensesEven though the sense of touch, taste, smell and hearing (and the sixth sense if you want), visuals are just as important as a form of communication. At times our senses can deceive us i.e. optical illusions, but it is still fascinating the fact our eyes can take in so much information when we don’t even realise that is what they’re doing.

A GIF, a meme or a Vine in a short amount of time can appeal to thousands or millions of people, and sharing takes it to another level where almost everyone, especially of the internet age have seen the exact same thing. Imagine thousands of people seeing the same image at the same time. I don’t know if that is an impossible world record I can comprehend!

Although there are images that can showcase the disturbance of peace and unfortunate events that happen in moments of life, it is still a big, blue and beautiful world. This is all the cheesy and all the corny, but its true. Have you seen images from space? Google it! Or Bing it if you like…well?!

With art, design and other visual industries such as film having a powerful impact upon people by their creators with abstract (interpretable) or concrete (dictionary definition) meanings for things they put into an image, Creative writing may not seem as they do. However, the fact that sensuous language, metaphors and similes etc. are used, then you as a reader create your own image in your head. You can breathe some sort of life and image into the words and therefore you are engrossed in a world you can’t technically see but you can immerse yourself within by the power of your imagination.

This post may seem to be going off-track but the main point still stands: don’t underestimate what you see. This is also why I think that even though Media studies seems to be a butt of a subject at times. My two years gave me a 101 on images and how people/audiences respond to them. A basic model is the encoding/decoding model by Stuart Hall. This is basically where the creator of the image makes an image which a certain ideology or message behind it. This can be done with text, colour and semiotics (study of signs i.e red=danger, blood, anger etc etc.) amongst other things. Audiences then decode with their own knowledge the image and take a reading/their own response from it.

Example: Traffic lights. From our background, cultural upbringing and understanding, the dominant readings of these colours from audiences are as follows:


Red = Stop

Amber = Get Ready

Green = Go

These colours can have multiple meanings but in terms of traffic lights and road safety, these are the readings used and are used by law for people to respond to what they mean. This is the preferred reading of the traffics lights and the ideology is that by following only through visuals what these colours mean, you are less likely to get in a road accident because everyone with the same cultural understanding of these colours will follow what they mean.

This seems unnecessary but it important to understand that every image in our life is created by nature or by people, we all take in visual information differently with different responses but in most cases with things such as film, advertising and music videos, certain visual codes are used so an audience decodes the preferred reading and initially have the same response to that image. This isn’t always the case but that is the intention of images created today.

Don’t take an image for granted, you may disagree with its message, you may agree with it or you may tolerate it, but don’t take it for granted. People someone created that image for a reason which is both good and bad and if you want me to go into further detail, then I can do that. Don’t underestimate how powerful an image can be. ‘A picture speaks a thousand words’ is in terms of the majority of people taking in visual information is completely and undeniably true.

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