Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Use of Language: Visual Narratives

"Original thought denied by equality" - Marjorie Savill Linthwaite 2009

Fahrenheit 541 - courtesy of MisterMaxHeadroom

This presentation deals with the concept of how oral text is hidden within the imagery, which can only be accessed through each interpretation of the narrative. Most people use language to communicate the meaning of the stories depending on their cultural background. Each person who is attuned to the concept of stepping outside the flat-space of the day-day reality will be able to access the subliminal meaning of the narrative. In the techno-age, of the twenty-first century the visual culture can consist of multifaceted mediums of communication and information product for the cyberpeople in this the millennium of Ra. These mediums can consist of photographs, paintings, drawings, film, objects, music, memories, places, poetry and lastly books of all the genres. The narrative can be transported through the virtual reality of Cyberspace to display on computer screens worldwide for the empowerment of every cyberviewer. One must first look and listen to interpret whether this imagery contains a story, or a body of information so as to be able to access the true meaning behind the visual narrative.

Links: Fahrenheit 451 /

Starry, Starry Night - courtesy of MrAdamBurns

The Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh had the rare gift of transferring the day-day reality into the visual narrative. His most famous creation 'Vase with Twelve Sunflowers' shows the inner torment of a man who worshiped the conceptual reality of Ra. The use of the colours red and yellow were seen by many to be the embodiment of his unstable emotions too closely tied to the explosive nature of the sun. This was the very nature of his love and sorrow always expressed in his actions of self-sacrifice which leads Vincent to be consumed by the madness of his artistic genus. "He who loves God cannot expect to be loved by God in return" (Uhde :6). Spinoza's quote: embodies the tortured spiritual essences of this artist whose palette of nature's colours were sourced from his soul. The sunflower is Ra's symbol of rebirth and remembering which in ancient Egypt was grown for the sole purpose of honouring the people too dear to the heart who have been forced to flee their mortal houses of decaying flesh

Leonardo da Vinci - the Ultimate Scientist/Artist - courtesy of sundroid

Church paintings have been used for centuries to convey a religious narrative such as the example of Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Last Supper'. Jesus, the son of God announcing to his twelve disciples that he will be betrayed by one of them is considered to be one of the most important events of the Christian religion. Leonardo captures the look of utter astonishment on the faces of these disciples so empowering the sense of foretelling a fate already written in the blood of the divine. This underlying message in this painting relates to the notion of the Eucharistic theme of self-sacrifice (Bianco :2). Today in the twenty-first century this painting has taken on a whole new dimension of meaning through Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code'. This fast-paced thriller based on historical facts intermingled with fiction grabs the reader by the throat to the very last page. Many subliminal messages are revealed throughout this novel which may case some Christians to question their faith. The Catholic religion has been for centuries so structured for the benefit of the masculine gender at the expense of the feminine (Brown :172-174).

Sparks of Art - courtesy of andrjh

The oldest form of visual narrative would have to be the stone age cave paintings of Lascaux. In the twenty-first century, the concepts of this visual culture are foreign and unrelated to this techno-age
(Schirato and Webb :83). One can only ponder at these wondrous creations of artists who had a choice of 158 different minerals to provide a imagery of subtlety in shape and form. These stone age narrators used to mix the ingredients with cave water containing trace elements of calcium in a mortar and grind with a pestle until a desired consistency was achieved. Vegetable and animal oils were used to bind the paint so it could be used for various applications such as crayons, sprays and stencils. There also appears, to be the use of brushes as a tool, judging from the complexity of the artwork. (Johnson :1-6). These visual narratives of the upper Palaeolithic period drawing inspiration from Nature are truly remarkable in the detail of the bison and horse of the stone age.

Links: The History of Visual Communication / Cave Paintings, (40,000 - 10,00)

Theorists of the narrative consider time the most important tool because of the structured nature of storytelling. Mitchell states that "literature is an art of time, painting is an art of space" (Schirato and Webb :85-86). This explanation is valid as it shows the readers of literature are usually in a state of time which allows the freedom to take one's time over the text and reflect. Paintings such as in art galleries require a sense of space for the viewer to fully appreciate the hidden meaning of the these visual narratives. Michel de Certeau made the observation about the linkage of the visual narrative of the everyday activity of the mass transportation process in Modern Athens. The trains and buses as a whole were referred to as 'metaphorai' which insured the actions of movement. Stories could be viewed as a form of travel that will take the reader on a journey to a destination dependant on the codes and constraints of life experiences and expectations (Schirato and Webb :81-82)


Brown, D. 2004, 'The Da Vinci Code', Griffin Press, Australia.

Certeau, Michel de, 1984, 'The Practice of Everyday Life' translated by Steven Rendall, University of California Press, Berkeley.

Johnson, Paul, 'Cave Paintings (40,000 - 10,000)'

Linthwaite, Marjorie, Savill. 2006, 'Use of Language in Mass Communication: Visual Narratives', University of Technology Sydney, Australia.

Mitchell, W. T. J. 1986, 'Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.

Schirato, Tony., Webb, Jen. 2004, 'reading the visual' Allen & Unwin, Australia.

Uhde, W. 1960, VAN GOGH, Phaidon Press, London.

Use of Language: Visual Narratives
copyright © Marjorie Savill Linthwaite 2009

All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

"Technology should be our tools of empowerment, not our masters of control." - Marjorie Savill Linthwaite 2009

1 comment:

Concha said...

very interesting read, thanks