Kostelnick Round 2: How Much Do Conventions Influence Our Perception of Visual Language?

For our second Kostelnick reading he explains what he believes qualifies as a convention and what doesn’t. The reading was fairly long so instead of summarizing the entire reading I am going to focus on a section of it. The section I am choosing to cover is called “The Role of Perception In Interpreting Visual Language” and it covers a few different things. The first is that a decent way to gauge how well conventions are working in a particular piece is to figure out how much they impact the readers ability to perceive visual language. It seems fairly obvious, but Kostelnick explains that our ability to read visual language not only hinges on our learning and experience but also on our ability to actually see the images. Kostelnick mentions Rudolf Arnheim and how Arnheim explains that things like us being able to distinguish between image boundaries, see hierarchical relationships, seeing a whole image from its individual parts, that all of these things influence our perception of the world we live in which means that they also play a role in how we interpret visual language. Kostelnick explains that knowing exactly how much conventions play a role in our perception of visual language is hard to tell and that so far it seems like there is a weak correlation. He does say however that because everyone is different that we all, obviously, interpret media and visual language differently. He uses written text as an example in which he says that most, but not all, people will be drawn to an embellished starting letter of a paragraph and that most people will rank text in a hierarchical order so that large text is what we would deem most important and so forth.

I found this reading interesting and I find that it helps to reinforce the last reading. The last reading we learned about what a convention is and what different types of conventions are out there and the communities that form because of them. In this reading we learn about how fine a line there is in what can be called a convention and just how flexible and ever-changing most conventions are. My example below is of a textbook page in which the smallest text is actually some of the most important text because it gives the reader context to the historical document that they are reading but it is instinctive for us to not even bother with it until the very end of reading the page even though reading it helps you better understand the larger text.

ENGL Page Example

My question is this: do you believe what Kostelnick and his sources claim that conventions don’t seem to have much of a role in our perception of visual language?


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