Visual culture can be said to be a representation of events in a visual manner, in which meaning, information, or entertainment are derived by consumers as a result of perceptional interacting with them (Walker, Chaplin 1997, 3). This incorporates with all the gadgets and the apparatus that are designed to be looked at or to enhance the vision. They range from the Internet through television to drawings and colorful advertisement (Mirzoeff 3). Thus, it can be said to be a study of images, in which the underlying meanings are obtained in the context of the observer’s culture but a relatively new study area (Dikovitskaya 2005, 3). This essay will study whether the culture that surrounds people today is predominantly visual or not.
The Visual Culture
Mirzoeff (1999) postulates that the modern life literally takes place on the screen. Life in developed countries, like the U.S., is mediated through the television and films, and this has created a swirl of the global village. A striking feature of the new visual culture is the trend of watching things that are not visual, and the growing technological advancement to construct visible things that people naked eyes cannot see. An example here can be the discovery of the X-rays. But some people criticize that the problem with visual culture lies in the use of the cultural framework to explain the history (Mirzoeff 1999).
Today, life in developed countries is lived under surveillance from cameras located to capture almost every activity. The ability to see the past is enhanced by the use of cameras and camcorders. The issues touching on all spheres of life, including work as well as leisure, are all enhanced by the use of cameras. Most of the human activities are now visualized. Medical images, satellite pictures, telescope images are all examples of visual culture of the today’s society. To understand the extent of the culture, it is estimated that an 18 year old American watches about 8 movies in a year but spend on average four hours in front of the TV every day. Traditional visualization forms are being replaced by the newly emerging forms, such as the Internet, and this has made imagery a way of life (Mirzoeff 1999).
Visual culture is embodied in all the activities that allow people make observations in pictography or even graphic forms. The surveillance in the visual manner has a wide range of advantages. It allows a conceptuality of phenomena, which would otherwise have not been possible. The modern technology has made life easier. Visional gadgets that allow communication to be more effective, such as webcams and video conferencing, have made communication more effective. Visual culture has enabled the devising of gadgets that allow the observations that would not have been possible with the naked eyes. These include the microscopes, telescopes and other devices that are used to explore the internal structures of the body and things. Virtual reality devices have been made for entertainment purposes as well as the training of the military personnel (Mirzoeff 1999).
An intriguing fact about this data is that visualizing does not imply understanding and ultimately does not imply solution to the problems. This can be testified by the number of crimes that happens at the glare of the cameras. The observations on the camera light may imply an easy catch, but to detain or arrest the culprits or even gather sufficient evidence to prosecute them is elusive. The crimes range from disorderly conduct and pick pocketing to the plane clashes, abductions, and bomb blasts. They cannot be prevented by the fact that they happen at the light of the cameras.
Postmodernism and Visual Culture
Today, the society has changed its moral and views significantly, and it is experiencing the new era, widely known as postmodernism. Postmodernism is said to be the modernization crises. That is a complex unity of the modes of the representations today. It can be represented by a set of strategies and rhetorical practices that employs a concept including the employment of difference, repetition concepts, as well as hyper reality so as to destabilize other concepts, such as the universal meaning, identity, historical development, and the progress (Aylesworth 2005, 1). The implication of this is that a representation is not deemed enough unless there is an alternative representation. This has made it impossible to make a clear line between the real natural experiences and artificial ones. The modern visual culture has made it impossible to describe the world in text format, and thus it denies an opportunity for in depth understanding. The presentations are done in a manner such that they appeal to the imagination nature of the minds, which is enhanced through visualization. It can be said that the development of visual culture is responsible for the postmodernism emergency, and fading of the conceptualism.
There exists a gap between the vast and advanced visual experiences and the people’s capacity for the analysis of the observations that have been made. This depicts an opportunity as well as a challenge and a call for extensive study in the field. Although different media have been studied as independent entities, there is a need for comprehensive and integrated study of the subject matter. To understand the extent of this concept, it should be mentioned that film and entertainment industry are the second largest exports in the US. Postmodernism is not, however, limited to the visual experiences. It is deep rooted in the today’s culture and can be described as the overlapping, complex, and disjunctive notion.
One of the most disturbing features of the visual culture is a tendency to observe features that are not in themselves observable. Rephrasing the concept, visual culture is independent of the pictures themselves, but depends on the tendency to visualize the existence. This marks the difference between the modern times and the ancient times. For example, consider a phrase, “economic picture,” this gives a broad spectrum of interwoven features, which would have been difficult to understand in the ancient times (Mirzoeff 1999).
Among the principal tasks of understanding the visual culture, it is crucial to understand how the pictures in their complexity come together to form a unity (Mirzoeff 1999, 18). Visual culture diverts attention from the formal view of the picture to the various visual sub disciplines. Most visual experiences take place in between those formal views. The culture seeks to prioritize the everyday visual experience. Visual culture is based on a historical fact that an image is not a static/stable object but changes with the external factors, including the modernity moments. This was not the case in the traditional photography; that is they did not depend on the exterior environment. The perspective, actually, was determined by the user. In modern times, the perspective has lost grounds and is represented by film and photography, which links people to the reality. This is to say that a photograph shows the reality that happened or is happening, and thus, it is dialectical as it links the present with the past in terms of space and time (Mirzoeff n. d., 7).
It can be claimed that the culture that surrounds us daily is predominantly visual. People face with visual images in all spheres of life, and try to visualize even abstract or invisible things and notion. The development of the Internet, HD, DVDs and TV, all signal the fact that visualizing is here permanently. There is a group of people dedicated to hauling the study of the principle. However, the curiosity in the minds of men and women and the desire to explicit the knowledge for commercial and other benefits will see the study taking the full effects. Putting the topic on the light will enable the stakeholders, in education and scientific sectors, to explore potentials lying in the understanding of the subject. This will make the subject incorporate in the syllabuses and expand to cover all matters concerning the subject (Mirzoeff 1999, 10).