The Impact of Visual Diversity on Critical Visual Literacy

By Anahit Falihi and S. E. Stewart.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The growing domination of communications by visual imagery brings with it a corresponding need for visual literacy, or the ability to discern and interpret the visible actions, objects, and symbols, natural or man-made, in the environment. Within this environment, the natural landscape and classical visual arts now compete for interpretation and response with the many products of mass media and information technology, such as Webcasts, computer games, and animated advertisements. These are generated for different purposes, which can be artistic, political or commercial. At the same time, our visual environment is becoming both more and less diverse. Visual diversity implies a variety of media, techniques, styles, and contexts associated with visuals, as well as variety in content and representation. Digital production and its dissemination through the Web give individuals greater access to the means of visual expression. At the same time, global ownership of media channels reduces the number and content of images disseminated on a mass scale. Critical visual literacy, as a dynamic process that involves critical viewing of such products in various contexts (reading) and creative production in response (writing), is affected by access to visual diversity. This paper addresses the ongoing competition between increased diversity and stereotyping and uniformity in the visual universe, the relationship of medium to content in various contexts, and how these factors affect the ability to respond in an informed, creative way.

Keywords: Visual Literacy, Critical Visual Literacy, Visual Culture, Visual Diversity, Democratization of Expression, Globalization and Local Culture

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.81-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 605.849KB).

Anahit Falihi

Researcher, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Anahit is a visual artist and researcher working in a variety of areas including fine arts, textiles arts, mixed-media arts and digital media arts. Her teaching and research focus are visual communication art, visual literacy, the role of visual studies in society, art education, art history, media art and design, theory and philosophy of visual education, instructional design, theatre and costume design, installation sculpture, experimental fiber art and design, and mix-media production. She has worked with the art departments of several feature films and television series as program coordinator and art director. Anahit who traveled and lived in a variety of countries in Europe and Asia, believes that her works are influenced by variety of cultures. Anahit’s work has been shown in local, national and international exhibitions. She holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Marmara University in Turkey. Currently, she is engaged in teaching and research on critical visuality through her graduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

S. E. Stewart

Independent Researcher, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

S.E. Stewart is an independent researcher, writer, editor and translator who has been active in Canadian arts and culture, both French- and English-language, for 25 years. As an arts administrator, she has worked with the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Ottawa and the City of Saskatoon, and with many arts organizations in book and magazine publishing, film production and theatre. Recently she has contributed to national studies of cultural development with Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities and Canada’s Creative City Network. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University in Montreal, a B.A. in Communications from Washington State University in the United States, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.


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