Virtual Reality – Real Visuality

Virtual, Visual, Veridical

by András Benedek (Volume editor) Ágnes Veszelszki (Volume editor)
©2017 Edited Collection 197 Pages
Series: Visual Learning, Volume 7


This book raises the question of what visuality really is and how it is possible to explain it. Virtual reality is connected to our current environment with multiple ties. It affects the everyday operation of the media and hence all of our lives. The authors connect the concepts of pictorial turn and virtual reality from different perspectives and disciplines, from philosophy through communication theory, rhetoric and linguistics to pedagogy.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface (András Benedek)
  • Figurative, Virtual, Rhetorical
  • A Radical View of the Literal-figurative Distinction (Zoltán Kövecses)
  • Beyond Persuasion – Rhetoric in a Virtual World (Petra Aczél)
  • Can Images be Arguments? The Possibility of Visual Argumentation in the WWF Nature Conservancy Campaigns (Eszter Deli)
  • Pictorial, Veridical, Cross-Cultural
  • Pictorial Truth (Kristóf Nyíri)
  • The Pictorial, the Virtual and the Trivial. On Pictorial Realism and Relativism (István Danka)
  • Images and Iconography in Cross-Cultural Context (Orsolya Endrődy-Nagy)
  • Diagrammatic, Visual, Practical
  • Diagrams as Scientific Instruments (Amirouche Moktefi)
  • Visual Learning and Open Content Development (OCD) (András Benedek)
  • How Digital and Virtual Life Trapped in Visuality and New Media Systems Affect Teaching and the Learning Process (György Molnár)
  • Social, Visual, Digital
  • Image Self-Involvement and Romantic Relationships: The Case of Selfies (James E. Katz, Daniel Halpern)
  • All About Image: Development of Visual Literacy through American Dating Apps (Rachel A. Katz)
  • Verbal and Visual Aggression in Trolling (Ágnes Veszelszki)
  • Apocalyptic, Real, Medial
  • Revolution of the Eye. The Spectacular Rhetoric of the Apocalyptic (László Attila Hubbes)
  • “In Images We Trust”. On Belief in Images as the Real Reality (Philipp Stoellger)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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András Benedek


We began examining the topic of visuality from an interdisciplinary perspective nearly a decade ago. At that time, my philosophy-based discussions with Kristóf Nyíri about the role of images in human activities inspired us to build on our ongoing research into the more and more complex effects of mobile communication tools on learning, and to establish the Visual Learning Lab (www.vll.bme.hu) at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in the autumn of 2009 as an opportunity for a new scientific dialogue.

We held workshops for those interested in the topic, arriving from various fields of scholarship. Today our series of regular meetings, which has introduced new research results, has an eight-year history. The widest possible interpretation of visuality has attracted the interest of the representatives of several disciplines. The special program of the professional platform initiated by the philosopher and the education researcher received contributions from linguists, sociologists, and engineers from the very beginning. Also, we had the privilege of receiving support and outstanding lectures from international participants (James Elkins, Kurt Röttgers, and Theo Hug) who enriched our agenda with the issues of distance education and m-learning. International scientific interest and the recognition of the opportunity of dialogue prompted us to organize an international Visual Learning Conference each year since 2010. Despite its modest dimensions including 30 to 40 papers and talks by European and even overseas researchers, these conferences can contribute to the modern interpretation of visuality, an increasingly diverse topic, as well as to the analysis of the complex developments in various areas of our life.

The Visual Learning Conferences have reached beyond creating a platform and a scientific dialogue. In addition to the possibilities offered by the electronic publication of abstracts and presentations, we produced a peer-reviewed book each year, which included invited papers by approximately one third of the conference speakers. It is worth mentioning how we came up with topics for the Visual Learning volumes, now published as a series. The first book, co-edited by Kristóf Nyíri and myself, published in 2011 with the title Image in Language: Metaphors and Metamorphoses, recalls the atmosphere of our first meeting with the topic of visuality. The titles of the later volumes, The Iconic Turn in Education (2012), How to Do Things with Pictures: Skill, Practice, Performance (2013), The Power of the Image – Emotion, Expression, Explanation (2014), Beyond Words: Pictures, Parables, ← 7 | 8 → Paradoxes (2015), and In the Beginning was the Image: The Omnipresence of Pictures: Time, Truth, Tradition (2016), the latest one co-edited with Ágnes Veszelszki, clearly show that an increasingly complex interpretation has added up-to-date explanations to the analysis of the interconnections between various disciplines.

The present volume is an edited selection of the studies finalized by the speakers of the 2016 VLL Conference. As usual, the title is important: Virtual Reality – Real Visuality: Virtual, Visual, Veridical. Virtual reality is connected to our current environment with multiple ties. Today it is no longer just a way of giving colours to the world of toys. It affects the everyday operation of the media and hence all of our lives. The application of virtuality is a means and method of research at various levels and in specific fields. This raises the question of what visuality really is and how it is possible to explain it. And the answers are not at all evident, especially when they are given by different disciplines, all from their respective perspectives.

The opening part of this volume is titled Figurative, Virtual, Rhetorical and presents three papers applying aspects and interpretations of rhetoric that has received a special attention from cognitive linguistics, communication theory, and the perspective of visuality from the very beginning of our work. Zoltán Kövecses’s study titled A Radical View of the Literal-figurative Distinction argues at the level of deep interconnections and from the perspective of cognitive linguistics that even our most concrete experiences can be conceptualized figuratively and not literally. The core element of his paper is Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), by which it is an essential recognition that abstractions are routinely conceptualized as basic concrete experiences. Its approach sets out from the analysis of the nature of metaphors perceivable in our present, historically demonstrating the basic difference between literal meaning and figurative meaning through the examples ANGER IS INSANITY and KNOWLEDGE IS VISION, pointing out that “… in the case of literal meaning (or concrete concepts) the ontological content predominates over the cognitive-construal part”.

Petra Aczél’s study titled Beyond Persuasion – Rhetoric in a Virtual World connects to this, just like the first step taken towards virtuality at the level of language and rhetoric. The author is a key figure of VLL, who also represents the development of our common thinking with her permanent presence. She has written a paper in each of the volumes published so far. Her latest work built on an up-to-date examination of the literature aims to find out more about the connection between the rhetorical and the virtual. In fact, it endeavours to frame the concept of virtual rhetoric with the investigation into how virtual is rhetorical and how rhetorical is virtual. No doubt, the concept of the naturally virtual has become the object of high-profile scientific analyses only during the latest two ← 8 | 9 → decades, and the introduction and application of the notion of virtual rhetoric in the interconnections of visual communication definitely amounts to an original approach. According to Professor Petra Aczél’s latest comments, “visuality for virtuality functions the same way as sounded words functioned for primarily oral cultures where practices of rhetoric can find their origins”. The rhetorical approach allows the author to place this recent phenomenon into a wider cultural-historical and philosophical framework: “Rhetoric can be seen as an ancient head mounted display through which we can enter into spectacular shared worlds, experience visual persuasion, emotional states, abbreviated decisive processes – that is, a kind of virtuality that preceded digital technology with thousands of years.”

Eszter Deli connects to this study presenting concrete examples of the explanation framework of visuality in her writing titled Can Images be Arguments? The Possibility of Visual Argumentation in the WWF Nature Conservancy Campaigns. The paper can be seen as a case study in line with the comprehensive title of the present volume as well as with the linguistic-rhetoric part. It surveys the changes in the role of image-based argumentation in communication as a constructive critical analysis of the almost half-a-century old idea of New Rhetoric (Perelman and Tyteca). This subtle analysis connects to the latest rhetoric interpretations that “attempted to prove that argumentation is as much a visual as a verbal art” (Aczél) and responds to a number of counter-arguments, recalling that “after centuries of the reign of the written word, we are witnessing the revival of visual rhetoric in a new world of imagery and sight” (Nyíri).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (August)
Virtuality Visuality Philosophy Linguistics Education Visual learning
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 197 pp., 37 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

András Benedek (Volume editor) Ágnes Veszelszki (Volume editor)

András Benedek is Professor of Education at the Department of Technical Education, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and DSc of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He has published more than 150 papers on human resource development. Ágnes Veszelszki is Associate Professor in Hungarian Linguistics and Communication at Corvinus University of Budapest. Her research fields include the impacts of infocommunication technology on language (digilect), and leadership communication.


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