Visual communication - a transcendental empirical-perspective

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Strauss, D. F. M.
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Department of Communication Science, University of the Free State
The recent pictorial turn, succeeded by a visual turn, led to a new appreciation of visual communication in human culture. Communication is normally associated with subjectsubject rela tions. The qualification “visual” entails an important demarcation and restriction for it mainly concerns (lingual and non-lingual) signs, sketches, tables, typographi cal designs, and so on. What is taken for granted are the spoken and the (electronically or non-electronically) written word. Attention is given to the remarkable differences between animals and human beings regarding their visual capacities within the visible world. It appears that ani mals select only a limited section from what is available to them within their visible world. Yet, there are animals that can register supersonic waves, see ultraviolet rays as light, fish can sense electrical fields, and birds use the magnetic poles of the earth as navigating devices – all senses lacking in a human being. Within the human visual field human beings are capable of perceiving many more things than what they are actually noticing. This coheres with the absence of inborn activating mechanisms in humans. Given the mysterious complexity of the eye, the important difference be tween animals and human perception is found in the distinctively human capacity to discern, to locate, to be attentive to something within a person’s visual field. This ability to be attentive is indeed decisive for visual communica tion. It is argued that the difference between oral and visual communication actually may serve to provide a criterion to distinguish between the science of ethnology and the science of history.
Visual communication
Strauss, D. F. M. (2010). Visual Communication – A Transcendental-Empirical Perspective. Communitas, 15, 1-19.