Visual culture studies recognize the predominance of visual forms of media, communication, and information in the postmodern world. Visual culture is best understood as a tactic for studying the functions of a world addressed through pictures, images, and visualizations, rather than through texts and words. We negotiate the world through visual culture, and the world itself is negotiated politically through visuality and visual images. This class is an introduction to the key issues of visual culture. It will examine the politics of images, the role that images play in producing cultural meaning, visuality and power relations, and how images are forms of visual communication. We will examine how images circulate through digital media, remakes, and viral networks, and the cross-fertilization of images between various social arenas, such as art, advertising, popular culture, news science, entertainment media, video games, and design.
Key questions and points of consideration are:
- Can we study visual culture as a system, but not as a pure state of visuality—that is, a system of visual meanings that are not purely imagistic—not formed only of images—but include texts and graphic design, design of functional objects, architecture, logos?
- Are social institutions systems of order that perpetuate, preserve, and legitimize complex forms of collective identity?
- What is the role of the visual arts in a mass-mediated visual world?
- Can visual culture studies be defined as an interdisciplinary field?
This course may also be registered as AIC 316 or CRS 316.
Department: Film and Media Arts
Semesters: Fall, Spring