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Visual Culture Studies

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Published: Mon, 02 Oct 2017

Visual Culture is everything that is seen, that is produced to be seen, and the way in which it is seen and understood. Representation is the way a person interprets symbols and images of a culture and the way these images explain why the world is the way it is . The Visual Culture approach acknowledges the reality of living in a modern world . Since childhood, a person’s brain uses representation of images into meanings to make sense of their world. For an example , It is that part of culture that communicates through visual means . If some special moment didn’t capture in your camera, you can digitally manipulate it on your computer. The queues are longer for the virtual reality at New York’s State Building . This virtual city will be joined shortly by Paris Las Vegas , copying the carefully manipulated image of the city of light. Life in this alter reality world is some times looks more pleasant than the real things, some time contrary to this. Way back in 1979 same sex marriage was opposed by the united States Congress but later when the sitcom character Ellen shown on television , millions of people liked it. On the other hand , virtual reality has long been favoured by the armed forces as a training arena, bring it into practice in Gulf war at a huge cost of human life. This is known as visual culture. It is not just a part of your everyday life, it is your everyday life.. Pictorial presentation is an impactful way forward communication for observing the new visuality in the culture. 

Nearly every form of visual media a person comes into contact with a photograph, which is undisputable evidence of an event. There is the myth of photographic truth, which means that photographs are subjective, yet can be manipulated and taken in different contexts. For an example the photographs taken by Nazi’s during the holocaust. The photographs denote that Nazis killed millions of people, but the photographs may also take on many connotative meanings of the two connotative meanings mentioned with the Nazi pictures they each hold different ideologies; ideas that form a culture. The ideas of ideology are usually taken in as the views of most of the population of a given culture, therefore ideologies define cultures.

An American ideology is the belief in independent freedom while a communist ideology is communal sharing. How are these ideologies passed on in a culture? They start off in schools and places that people gather. Malls are filled with advertisements. There are ads that symbolize skinny brunettes wearing Chanel as the perfect woman, which is what most men and women tend to take as truth. Then there are ads to enlist people into the army, which give a message of a strong country run by individuals. The idea of interpretation is that people are made up of the different ideologies with which they come in contact with through out their lives. In this case a person might enlist in the army to be a part of a strong country while another might buy a Chanel dress to look like the woman in the ad. This newly visual existence may be confusing. For example the new visuality of culture is not the same as understanding it . Indeed the gap between the wealth of visual experience in contemporary culture & the ability to analyse that observation marks either of the opportunities and the need for visual culture as a field of study.

People get crazy to visuals of a skinny brunette wearing the Chanel clothes, rather than a overweight lady with red hair. This can be explained through psychoanalytic theory. It implies that people get feelings out of images because they tend to bond with them. In the case of the advertisements , a person might have been brought up in a culture that implies that skinny brunettes are the pretties of all. At a young age that person accepted that idea as true and holds it to this day, ending up buying a Chanel dress just because the lady in the ad is a skinny brunette.

Visual culture is concerned with visual events in which information, meaning or pleasure is sought by the stakeholder in an interface with visual technology. I mean any form of apparatus designed either to be looked at or to enhance the natural vision , from oil painting to television & the internet.

Postmodernism has been defined as the crisis of modernism , that is to say wide – ranging complex of ideas and modes of representation ranging from over arching beliefs in progress to theories of the rise of abstract printing . Now these means of representation is no long seems to be convincing until unless any alternative having emerged. The post modernisation is the crisis called by modernisation and modern culture confronting the failure of its own strategy of visualising . Also, we can say it is the visual crisis of the culture creates post modernity, not its textuality . While print culture is certainly not going to disappear, the fascination with the visual and its effect that was a key feature of modernism has endangered a postmodern culture that is at its most post modern when it is visual.

The globalization of the visuals taken together demands new means of interpretation. At the same time , the transformation of the postmodern also requires rewriting of historical explanations of modernism in order to account for visual turn. We feel human experience is now more visual & impressive. In many ways , people in industrialized & post – industrialized societies now live in visual culture to an extent that seems to divide present from the past. Popular journalism constantly remarks on digital imagery in films, the advent of post photography and developments in medical imaging , not to mention the endless tide of comment devoted to the internet . It is evident post modernism is visual culture.

Despite the vast range of alternatives , visual culture is a tactic to which to study the genealogy, definitions & functions of post modern everyday life. The fragmented culture that we call postmodernism is best imagined and understood visually, just as the nineteenth century was classically represented in the news papers & novel.

Western culture has consistently privileged the spoken word as the highest form of intellectual practice and seen visual representation is secondly rated examples of ideas. Western philosophy now use a pictorial , rather than textual , model of the world , marking a significant challenges to the notion of the world as a written text that dominated so much intellectual discussion in the wake of such linguistic based movements as structuralism and post structuralism .

While those working on with visual media might find such remarks rather patronizing , they are the measure of the extent to which even literary studies have been forced to conclude that the world as a text has been challenged by the world a picture. Such world pictures can not be purely visual, but by the same token , the visual disrupts and challenges any attempts to define culture in completely linguistic terms.

Visual culture has a history that needs exploring and defining in the modern as well as post modern period. Many current uses of the term have suffered from vagueness that makes it little more than a buzzword. For some critics , visual culture is simply ‘the history of images’.

Visual culture is used in a far more interactive senses , concentrating on the determining role of visual culture in the wider culture to which it belongs. Such a history of visual culture is debated , contested & transformed as constantly challenging place of social interaction & definition in terms of class, gender & sexual identities. One critic in communication studies

had made a point that this work entails ‘greater level of uncertainty & risk ‘ than have often been used until now. As visual culture is still an idea in the making , rather than a well- defined existing field , this aims to help in its definition of visual culture rather than present it as a given.

Visualising the things which are not in themselves visual is one of the most striking features of the new visual culture. A world picture doesn’t mean the picture of the world but the world perceived, conceived & grasped as a picture. The world picture does not change from an earlier medieval one into a modern one, but rather the world becomes picture at all is what distinguishes the essence of the modern age. Visual culture doesn’t not depends on pictures but on this modern tendency to picture or visualise existence.

One of the important objective of visual culture is to understand how these complex pictures come together. It direct our attention away from structured , formal viewing settings , like cinema to the centrality of visual feelings in everyday life. At present different notions of viewing are within & between all the various visual sub disciplines. Of course, it does make a sense to differentiate . Our attitude varies whether we go to see movie , attend any art exhibition or see television. Most important thing to note here is our visual experience take place aside from these formally structured moments of looking.

Just as cultural studies has sought to understand the ways in which people interpreting the meaning from the stock of mass culture , so does the visual culture prioritize everyday feel of the visual from the snapshot to TV and even the blockbuster art exhibition. Visual culture is a necessarily historical subject , based on the recognition that the visual image is not stable but change its relationship to exterior reality at particular moments of modernity.

Perspective system , for example, depends upon the viewer examining the image from one point only, using just one eye. No one actually does this , but the image is internally coherent and thus credible. A photograph necessarily shows us something that was at a certain point actually before the camera’s lens. This image is dialectical because it setup a relationship between the viewer in the present and in the past moment of space or time that it represents .

Film or photographic image no longer reflects reality because everybody knows it can be manipulated by computers. Real time prevailing over real space , virtually dominating & turning concept of reality on its head . If we recollect the film produced by ‘smart’ bombs which were used in Gulf war , showed targets being destroyed , only for it later to emerge that they missed as often as any other bomb. These virtualities of the post modern image constantly seem to elude our grasp, creating a crisis of the visual that is more than a specialized problem for the traditional visual disciplines.

The concept of world picture is no longer adequate to analyse the changed and changing situation . Visual culture seek to find ways to work within this new (virtual) reality to find the points of resistance in the crisis of information and visual fever ( overload) in everyday life. It can also be argued that in modern warfare tactics ( i.e. imitation, manipulation & simulation ) are necessary to defeat the enemy & win the war. So , we can now see the collapse of reality in everyday life from the mass visual media. One photograph alone no longer shows the truth. Similarly, some of the most followed television series bear no resemblance to reality at all.

But the visual is not simply the medium of information and mass culture. Its offers sensual immediacy that can’t be rivalled by print media. The very element that makes visual imagery of all kinds distinct from texts.

For better understanding of visual culture let us give this feeling a name – the sublime. The sublime is the pleasurable experience in representation of that which would be painful in reality, going forward to realization of limits of the human & powers of nature. The sublime was first theorized in antiquity by Longinus, who described how is our soul is uplifted by the true sublimes; it takes a proud flight and is filled with joy and vaunting, as though it has itself produced what it had heard. The sublime was given renewed importance by enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant, who called it ‘ a satisfaction mixed with horror’. Kant contrasted the sublime with the beautiful, seeing the former as a more complex and profound emotion leading a person with taste for the sublime to detest all chains from the gilded variety worn at court to the irons weighing down the galley slave.

The study of Visual Culture can include anything from Painting, Sculpture, Installation, Video art, Digital art, Photography, Film, Television, The Internet, Mobile screenic devices, Fashion, Medical & scientific imaging, Social spaces of museums, galleries, exhibitions, and other private and public environments of the everyday.

Visual Culture Studies involves an analysis of contemporary culture, media and society It important to understand how societies construct their visual perspectives through knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, laws, and customs, amongst other things.

All images are produced within dynamics of social power and ideology. Ideology is the shared set of values and belief which individuals live out their complex relations to a range of social structures. Ideologies often appear to be natural or given aspects of everyday life.

The future of visual culture in everyday life is deep rooted like development of internet & high definition TV , make clear that visualizing is here to stay. On the other side , there are those who have dedicated themselves to ensuring that visual culture is eradicated as a field of study. Casting visual culture in this light places it in the role of the underdog, which can be course be a very privileged in academic field. So the example of the institutionalisation of cultural studies in the United states is perhaps the best place to look for lessons for the fledging interdisciplinary.

Analyzing visual culture is a useful tool in understanding more about the world in which we live in. One may see things in different aspect or an image might take upon new meaning, once its meaning is analyzed and truly understood. Through the process of representation, psychoanalytic theory, and photographic truth, one may find a whole new world in the very one that they live. Visual Culture studies provide us with the ability to analyse the visual​


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