This/next week’s reading had a lot of great stuff that focused on visual literacy. Some selections:
- Amnesty International’s “Imagine” series p. 600-602
- Nick Hornby writing on Richard Billingham’s photos p. 618-623
- Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag p. 652-656, although I’m not sure if this excerpt does justice to the book which is very thought-provoking
- p. 672, p. 673, John Kerry and Photo of the Year respectively
Standout: Frank Fournier’s photograph of Omayra Sanchez, and corresponding essay by Isabel Allende and Interview with Fournier. I really appreciated the interview excerpt with Fournier, because like most other people, as he says, I wondered why the hell he wasn’t helping her. Realizing that she was a goner by the time he got to her, mildly eases my discomfort regarding his judgement to photograph her.
I think it’s interesting that the Chapter opens talking about Visual Literacy, and how in this age, “information, indeas and epistemology are given form by television, not by the printed word,” according to Neil Postman. But I think the photo of Omayra relies on the words to tell the truth–I know that word is red flag. Really, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at when I first saw the photo, I knew something was wrong but had no real context. I gathered the information and ideas from the following texts. Although, we may be in an age of visual consumption, we can’t assume that it wholly satisfying.
I’m also touched by the Fournier photo and interview and Allende’s text because it makes me think of a plot point in the book: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. For those who have read it, I’m thinking of Will Navidson and his photo of the girl (what is her name?!). For those of you haven’t, read it, it is an amazing, chilling, challenging book, and should be of interest to any book designer purely because of it’s form.
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