What is Visual Culture?

What we are going to talk about on this module is about the visual and how we pertain it on our everyday, from perspectives of artists, designer, makers and ways we can contextualize these with theories and relate it to our own practice.

Visual Culture is that which is concerned with everything we see, have seen, or may visualize – paintings, sculptures, movies, television, photographs, furniture, utensils, gardens, dance, buildings, artifacts, landscape, toys, advertising, jewelry, apparel, light, graphs, maps, websites, dreams – in short, all aspects of culture that communicate through visual means.

Fendi, Crayons – Gallerie Lafayette, Paris

Malcom Barnard has stated that visual culture is “Everything that can be seen”, (1998); however, this fails to take account of things that occur in nature. There are things that occur in nature that are not really touched by human hands, but things like gardens, although looking natural, they are part of visual culture as humans configurate plants to grow at certain places next to what ever they want.

Exploring the idea of human intervention with nature or natural substances in a more fine art context are examples  by Andres Serrano and Damien Hirst. Marcom Barnard further discussed that visual culture is “everything produced or created by humans that can be seen”, (1998).

 These are made with a function or communicate intent; however, its been in art sequels and in our consciousness for such a long time that it has been an iconic, recognisable symbol of popular culture.

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Adler & Sulivan, Chicago Audotorium Theatre, 1889

“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,of all things physical and metaphysical,of all things human and all things superhuman,of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression,that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

– Louis H. Sullivan, 1956

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Sancaklar Mosque, Emre Arolat Architects. Archdaily Building of the Year 2015

If something is has a job to do, communicate a message or satisfy a function then there is intent in its production by man.

Its interesting how apps like Logos Quiz, we can identify logos and brands without it having the whole logo. We have adapted so much to these symbols of popular culture that it has become second nature to us



What is context?

Oxford English Dictionary definition of context: 1.The Circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement or idea. Within that we look at back drop, circumstance, situation, framework,setting,perspective, environment.

Context can be:

  • Historical
  • Political
  • Technological
  • Geographical
  • Ethical
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Epistemological
  • Gender
  • Philosophical
  • Professional
  • Institutional
  • Economic
  • Business/Industry
  • Legal
  • Visual
  • Emotional
  • Physical

Artists, Designers,Authors and Makers don’t operate in a vacuum they need to be informed and knowledgeable in relation to the context of their practice, whether or not they are aware of it anyone making or writing is influenced by many factors, everything that emerges is a product of the conditions and circumstances of time, people and place.





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BA (Hons) Final Year Ceramics student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Love experimenting with material and techniques and work on a range of medium.

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