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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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This book is dedicated to Neil Postman, an amazing scholar, who never completely understood visual communication, although he was able to critique it. No book is ever completed without assistance from others. First, I would like to thank The College of Liberal Arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology for funding my graduate assistant, Bonnie McCracken. I would like to thank her for her work on helping me prepare this manuscript. Second, the reviewer of the text needs my thanks for providing helpful suggestions. Finally, I want to thank Mary Savigar for believing in this project when other editors did not. This book has been a ten-year process. So, I give a special thanks to everyone that helped along the way.

For the revised version of the text, I would like to thank Kathryn Harrison from Peter Lang Publishing for her continued support of visual research.

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