Powerful Connection Between Visuals and Words in Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

powerful connection between visuals and words in storytelling. Before doing the research to write this essay, it never occurred to me place words in a hierarchy above images, so I confess to some surprise at the debate over which should be considered more important. I began my research with the premise that the two are equal; different yes, but equal certainly. And nothing that I discovered in my survey of literature on the subject has changed my mind.

The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" sums up the debate over the relative importance of images vs. words. This statement was clearly made by someone who believes in the primacy of images. Based on my research, however, it would seem that proponents of the position that images are more important to communication than words appear to be in the minority.

There is no question that Sandra Martin believes that images are as important as words. She discusses a syntactic theory of visual communication that sheds light on why words are considered the more important to achieve the goal of communication. It turns out that images do not inherently possess rules for decoding their messages. There is no universally agreed upon syntax telling us how to construct and deconstruct images. There is no subject-verb-object rule that tells us how to "read" and decode the meaning of an image, consequently we are not taught to read images in the same way that we are taught grammar. Many of us never progress beyond the most basic skills when it comes to reading images.

In recent years, however, our society has become more image-literate. Technology is responsible for this revolution. And because technology is so accessible, it has the unexpected side benefit of promoting mage literacy. Computers are responsible for this explosion of images that surrounds us.

Martin's article refers to studies that show that people remember only 10% of what they hear, only 30% of what they read, but a startling 80% of what they see and do. As more and more people learn to use computers for word and picture processing, the transition happens from passive watching of images to active use of images. In Martin's words "Words and pictures will become one, powerful and memorable mode of communication" (Lester).

Linguistic theorists maintain that because pictures are presentational and not discursive, they lack grammar. If they lack grammar, then they are not a language. Syntax and grammar may change from language to language, but in theory, anyone who can learn the rules can read a particular language. Along with this understanding of syntax and grammar comes the ability to manipulate words, to tell a story. This is not the case with images.

There is no such thing as a vocabulary for photography, no universally acceptable language of visual description. While it is almost universally accepted that a picture is worth a…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

"A Bridge Falls: I-35W Bridge Collapse." Star Tribune Feb. 2008.

Lester, Paul Martin. "Syntactic Theory of Visual Communication." California State University, Fullerton. 5 August 2011

Moriarty, Sandra. "Visual Communication as a Primary System." Journal of Visual Literacy 14:2 (1994): 11-21. 5 August 2011 < http://spot.colorado.edu/~moriarts/primelang.html>

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