Saturday, October 24, 2009

VISUAL LANGUAGE: Project 3; Reading Summations


Berlow's model of education is the idea of a cohesive relationship between the source and receiver of a message and the aspects of communication between the two. The term dyadic defines that relationship between the source and receiver and the important role it plays in communication. In that relationship, the more developed the communication skills of the source and receiver, the more effective the message will be to the source and receiver; the coder and encoder.

The sources of communication mentioned by Berlow are very logical and applicable when portraying a message; speaking and writing, listening and reading, and thought or reading. Also, the encoder, or source, skill level can effect the ability to analyze our own purposes and intentions, or our ability to say something and have it come across in the correct context. With that comes the ability or lack of ability to encode messages with what we intend to say, in other words, finding the right word to say that has a common meaning for both parties. These words that are put forth by the source, or encoder, effect how we think and what we think about; the way we express about our experiences are a direct reflection of out experience of the world. The lack of these skills obviously limit the ideas that are available and in the end decrease our ability to think through these ideas. The skills that are involved in portraying a message are the ability to know and apply the code's grammar, know and use a broad vocabulary, know and apply conventions, and the overall adaptation of the code to the audience.

The next idea of communication being affected by the knowledge or the source, which includes his/her own attitudes and whether they apply positively or negatively. The ways in which he/she produce and treat the message in relation to the logical mode of communication. The choice of the communicative channel and how it related to the competition, and it is also important to consider subject matter and the knowledge of the subject matter. The source also has to take in to consideration the socio-cultural level of the audience as well as attitude in relation towards self, subject matter, and receiver. 

The next step in Berlow's model is "Message" the includes the determination of the code itself, the material, order, and arrangement of the material in the message, and the selecting and arranging of the code and content.

The last step is "Channel" (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting) and relates to the media used to communicate the message. These selections are limited to availability, budget, source preferences, the channels received by the most people in relation to cost, and finding the channel with the most impact.


The reading on semiotics, gave a clear and concise view as to how symbols work and how the message can be transmitted to the viewer. However, these symbols and messages can by very simple but can also be complex and require advanced knowledge and context.

Symbols are signs with arbitrary relationships between the signified and signifier. The signifier is an action or symbol, and the signified is the message portrayed (i.e shaking hands = greeting, black tie = formal occasion).

Messages can also be transmitted through the medium whether it is presentational (voice, face, or body), representational (paintings, books, photos), and mechanical (telephones, internet, tv). The example of the Mona Lisa demonstrates the use of all 3 mediums due to her facial expression, it is a painting in its original form, and internet/TV in digital form.

There is also the context that related to an object in the relationship between the sender and receiver. A writer and reader (sender and receiver) with a context of literature and the object is a book. There is a distinct relation between the context and object that embodies the visual aspect of what is being communicated between the sender and receiver.


The first discussion within this reading was that of argument as to whether "academic" classes are of benefit to graphic design students and their studies. There was also the idea of what if graphic design was a liberal art? If so it would, theoretically, bridge the many subjects that deal with communication, expression, interaction, and cognition. There would be a focus on the meaning of design and how it can be created as well as the relationship of form and communication.

In relation to liberal arts are scholars or scholarship, and if design were a liberal art there would be no scholarship due to the fact there is no subject matter of its own. The subject matter of design is an unestablished problem, made partly determinable by the clients, managers, and the designer. If design were to take the form of liberal arts, there would be a strong emphasis on rhetoric that would influence the actions of individuals and communities, change attitudes and values, as well as shape society in a fundamental way. However there would be a balance in practice and analysis, but ultimately is not limited to just the communication mode of rhetoric.


The reading on theory to practice deals with the interference of "noise" that can occur during communication between the sender and receiver. There are 3 levels to this noise; one being an obvious problem such as smudged printing or bad workmanship, two on the semantic level which is caused by the receivers cultural background as well as their social group, and the third is effectiveness and whether or not the message is distinguishable.

In relation to sending a message comes the complexity or simplicity of the message, and the idea of "form follows function" plays directly in to this idea. This idea is plain but beautiful and was taken to its extreme during the 1920's and 30's beginning with Vienna and ending with Berlin. From there, Modernism proved its effectiveness without decoration. In society, decoration is redundancy and can be reduced by being less wordy or by using metaphors but those messages can become distorted in an similar way as the game "telephone". In cooperation with the message, redundancy give us context which then creates longevity is a product or message. A simple or less wordy message with little to know context is often confused and forgotten. These redundant concepts are portrayed with the use of metaphor, analogy, anecdote, and cliches.

The opposite of redundancy is entropy which is a technical language or an unfamiliar visual communication. Once and entropic concept becomes familiar and distinguishable, it is no longer entropy, it is redundancy.

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