This class will survey how artists, designers and cultures have historically used images as a means to organize and communicate information. How do representations convey meaning in a manner different from language? What do visual conventions reveal about the cultures and technologies that shape them? How and why might artists and viewers subvert the legibility of images? To address these questions, this course proceeds by way of close visual analysis of key works, while exploring their historical, technological, social and artistic contexts. nn Topics to be explored include: iconography and interpretation; the relationship between maps and painting; the importance of printmaking to the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution; the visual culture of the newspaper as reflected in (and satirized by) Cubist and Dadaist art; the political impact of photography (illustrated by a visit to an exhibition of Lewis Hine¿s photographs at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts); the rhetorical conventions of television news and advertising. Later weeks will address representational norms which have emerged in the wake of digital technology: multi-screen displays, Powerpoint and interactive infographics, concluding with a discussion around the data-gathering functions of social media platforms such as Instagram. Ultimately, students will learn the fundamentals of visual communication across media and history, but will also reflect on art¿s enduring ability to transcend and resist a purely informational role in culture.
Iconography to Instagram: A History of Images and Information