The Impact of Visual Diversity on Critical Visual Literacy

A10 4

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  • Title: The Impact of Visual Diversity on Critical Visual Literacy
  • Author(s): Anahit Falihi, S. E. Stewart
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Visual Literacy, Critical Visual Literacy, Visual Culture, Visual Diversity, Democratization of Expression, Globalization and Local Culture
  • Volume: 5
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2010
  • ISSN: 1833-1866 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2473-5809 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Falihi, Anahit, and S. E. Stewart. 2010. "The Impact of Visual Diversity on Critical Visual Literacy." The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review 5 (4): 81-92. doi:10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v05i04/35883.
  • Extent: 12 pages


The growing domination of communications by visual imagery brings with it a corresponding need for visual literacy, or the ability to discern and interpret the visible actions, objects, and symbols, natural or man-made, in the environment. Within this environment, the natural landscape and classical visual arts now compete for interpretation and response with the many products of mass media and information technology, such as Webcasts, computer games, and animated advertisements. These are generated for different purposes, which can be artistic, political or commercial. At the same time, our visual environment is becoming both more and less diverse. Visual diversity implies a variety of media, techniques, styles, and contexts associated with visuals, as well as variety in content and representation. Digital production and its dissemination through the Web give individuals greater access to the means of visual expression. At the same time, global ownership of media channels reduces the number and content of images disseminated on a mass scale. Critical visual literacy, as a dynamic process that involves critical viewing of such products in various contexts (reading) and creative production in response (writing), is affected by access to visual diversity. This paper addresses the ongoing competition between increased diversity and stereotyping and uniformity in the visual universe, the relationship of medium to content in various contexts, and how these factors affect the ability to respond in an informed, creative way.