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Visual Culture and Literacy

"Western culture has consistently privileged the spoken word as the highest form of intellectual practice and seen visual representations as second rate illustrations of ideas. Now, however, the emergence of visual culture as a subject has contested this hegemony."
- N. Mirzoeff, 1998, p. 5

According to Mirzoeff and colleagues the-world-as-a-text is now challenged by the world-as-a-picture. World pictures are not purely visual, but "the visual disrupts and challenges any attempt to define culture in purely linguistic terms" (p. 5). The visual is a strong field that demands examination, a place where class, gender, sexual and racial identities are presented and can be debated, distilled and embellished.

Visual culture is dependent on the contemporary tendency to picture or visualize existence. The world is no longer understood as text, or as a book. Everyday life is rich in visual stimuli, graphic representations of real objects and even concepts. A distinction of our times is "the visualization of things that are not in themselves visual." (Mirzoeff, 1998, p. 6). Visual culture theory views art, including cyberart as visual artefacts. People interact with these artefacts, often in an unconscious way, continually bombarded by icons, logos, moving images and all manner of artistic expression.


Mirzoeff, N. (ed). (1998). Visual culture reader. New York: Routledge.

Wertsch, J. V. (1991). Voices of the mind: A sociocultural approach to mediated action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. - an initiative by:
June Kaminski, RN MSN 2000 - 2011
Hygeia Design

Visual Culture

Visual Literacy