Introduction

Visual Literacy: Seeing, Making, and Reading Images across the Disciplines
Peter Wall Institute International Research Roundtable

 

We are living in a visual age, in which images have become the central medium for representing and interrogating all aspects of human experience. Digital visuality has fundamentally shifted the traditional ratio between textual and visual communication. As the beating heart of digital culture, visual communication has come to permeate almost every aspect of our personal, professional, and political lives. From a historical perspective, this explosion in our use of, and access to, images represents as radical a turning point as did the first information revolution brought about by Johann Gutenberg’s printing press.

New capacities to create, reproduce, manipulate, circulate, and store images have brought with them the imperative to cultivate a new “visual literacy” within the humanities. To meet this imperative, scholars from across the arts, social sciences, and sciences whose work has forged new ground in visual analysis and perception must be brought into dialogue. Whether as scholars, students, or citizens, in our visual age the skills to critically parse visual language are becoming as important as the exegesis of texts has been for centuries.

The Visual Literacy roundtable will explore how scholarship from within and beyond the humanities can combine to develop and promote a new visual literacy that responds to the challenges and opportunities of this new, visual information revolution. Its central question is how a more holistic and informed engagement with images can open up new avenues of research. To that end, it brings together internationally renowned scholars and practitioners from the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts who would not otherwise have occasion for sustained interaction.

 

Convenors:

Tara Mayer ("Reading Images" and Principal Organizer), UBC History

Dominic Lopes ("Seeing Images"), UBC Philosophy

Christine D'Onofrio ("Making Images"), UBC Art History, Visual Art & Theory

 

Coordinator & Research Assistant: Josh Timmermann (joshtimm@mail.ubc.ca)