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An Introduction to Visual Communication

From Cave Art to Second Life (2nd edition)


Susan B. Barnes

Technological changes have radically altered the ways in which people use visual images. Since the invention of photography, imagery has increasingly been used for entertainment, journalism, information, medical diagnostics, instruction, branding and communication. These functions move the image beyond aesthetic issues associated with art and into the realm of communication studies.

This introductory textbook introduces students to the terminology of visual literacy, methods for analyzing visual media, and theories on the relationship between visual communication and culture. Exploring the meanings associated with visual symbols and the relationship of visual communication to culture, this book provides students with a better understanding of the visually oriented world in which they live. From cave art to virtual reality, all visual media are discussed with methods for evaluation. Student-friendly features such as boxed topics, key terms, web resources, and suggestions for exercises are provided throughout.

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Susan B. Barnes, General Editor

Visual communication is the process through which individuals in relationships, organizations, and cultures interpret and create visual messages in response to their environment, one another, and social structures. This series seeks to enhance our understanding of visual communication, and explores the role of visual communication in culture. Topics of interest include visual perception and cognition; signs and symbols; typography and image; research on graphic design; and the use of visual imagery in education. On a cultural level, research on visual media analysis and critical methods that examine the larger cultural messages imbedded in visual images is welcome. By providing a variety of approaches to the analysis of visual media and messages, this book series is designed to explore issues relating to visual literacy, visual communication, visual rhetoric, visual culture, and any unique method for examining visual communication.

For additional information about this series or for the submission of manuscripts, please contact Dr. Barnes at

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