New forms of writing, new visual competencies

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Journal Article
Visual Studies, 2008, 23 (2), pp. 130 - 135
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This article discusses two crucial issues in the social semiotics of visual communication. The first is the move from accounts of specific semiotic modes towards an integrated multimodal approach to visual communication in which the analysis of images becomes less central than the analysis of semiotic resources such as composition, movement and colour, which are common to a range of semiotic modes including images, graphics, typography, fashion, product design, exhibition design and architecture. The second is a new emphasis on the discourses, practices and technologies that regulate the use of semiotic resources, and on studying the take-up of semiotic resources by users in relation to these regulatory discourses, practices and technology. Here, the article will discuss a number of semiotic ‘regimes’, including codification, tradition, expertise, best practice or role modelling, and technological control. The article ends with a discussion of the way normative discourses are built into the latest visual communication technologies (e.g. PowerPoint, HTML, Photoshop, Illustrator) and an affirmation of the need for a critical and well-contextualised semiotics of visual technology. © 2008 International Visual Sociology Association.
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