Saturday, 29 May 2010

Visual perspectives and their impact on iMedia projects

This week we were introduced to a new visual perspective from a client who is a jeweller. In the past we have worked with clients to produce iMedia projects across such diverse areas as digital TV switchover and fashion. But here, the need for close-up, clear images of the jewellery actually showed up blemishes of the hand-worked metals. We didn't notice these as we were concentrating on photographing detailed, well-lit images. The client was easy-going and just said that she’d never realised the blemishes were there despite working under lights and using strong lenses to produce the pieces. Actually, she also decided that they were good because they demonstrated the pieces were hand-crafted, so although we said we could Photoshop them out (ah, yes, what did we ever do without it?), she decided against this to remain true to the image.

It got me thinking however about how often in the past a lot of controversy in projects has been caused by clashes in visual perspective where the differences between how the client views things and how we view the same things were not so evident and appeared subjective. I wondered what the latest theory was on visual literacy and embarked on some research.

Did you realise we've been part of a massive revolution where visual overtakes textual intelligence as technologies such as the Internet, video games, CDs, DVDs and social networks become the communicative media of choice? There remains a gulf between how visual literacy is measured/rated in people and how their intelligence in text environments is measured. Our educational measures lag behind and don't even fit the emerging capabilities and skills used in electronic media. Well, I’m not surprised!

All this leads to how we understand and value other perspectives. Do we stick to what we know and feel happy with, and therefore insist we are right, or do we hold back, wonder if there is another valid perspective, and compromise? Maybe there is more to the saying the client is always right than we realise!

For those who want to drill deeper into this massive field of visual literacy, here are a few current online refs. Enjoy the ride.

Theories of Visual Perception: Problems and Perspectives by Professor Alan Johnson of University College London - bit outdated but academic historical text-based overview of visual literacy theories to the end of last century.

A Perspective on 3D Visual Illusions in Scientific American - makes you think about visual images in a new way, with pertinent illustrations.

Digital Technologies and performative pedagogies: Repositioning the visual by Kathryn Grushka and Debra Donnelly of Newcastle University in Australia - pretty heavily academic but has meaning for us iMedia lot.

Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis? from PhysOrg - a bit of the alternative point of view about what visuals do and don’t do for us.