Today’s Ephemera are Tomorrow’s Beliefs: How the public’s lack of visual literacy enables graphic designers to create and propagate myth
Welch, Elizabeth A.
Savannah, Georgia: Savannah College of Art and Design (eLearning)
Thesis (M.F.A.) -- Graphic Design
Savannah College of Art and Design -- Department of Graphic Design
Works cited: pages 116-122
Works consulted: pages 123-124
"Most graphic designers have been asked, 'What does a graphic designer do?' The answer is usually some variant of 'being responsible for shaping messages,' or 'influencing people’s perceptions,' often in the service of advertising a commercial product or advancing a social cause. Many would agree that to achieve those goals, graphic design practices create myths which are repeated and expanded until naturalized and accepted as fact. This thesis contends it is possible to create and propagate these myths because the public is not visually literate. Along with research on visual literacy, the theories of Marshall McLuhan, Roland Barthes, and Nicholas Carr support this assertion. The role of visual literacy in American society and the necessity of pedagogical changes for the 21st century are explored. Also discussed, are the underlying reasons for the public’s current lack of visual literacy skills—including the erroneous, but pervasive, attitude that using visually-oriented media equates to understanding them. A case study of a popular brand of granola bars serves as a real-world example of myths about healthfulness, demonstrated through a deconstruction of the packaging design—analyzing elements such as color, imagery, texture, and typography. Then, by placing that design in context, it becomes clear how myths transcend individual artifacts to become widely held beliefs. Opposing views are raised and refuted before concluding with observations and suggestions for further research."
PDF #2 includes an explanation of the author's rationale for the design and preparation of her graduate exhibition, along with photographs
Keywords: graphic design, visual literacy, media literacy, visual communication, myth, semiotics, Roland Barthes
CHAIR: Field, Louise Wales
PDF #1 (thesis) : 124 pages, chiefly color illustrations + PDF #2 (visual component) : 67 numbered pages, color illustrations
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