About History of visual communication

About History of visual communication

In the modern era there has been anticipation throughout the world that various art universities would introduce communication design history as an independent academic discipline. Today, communication design courses, except for a few places such as the Jan Van Eyck Akademie in the Netherlands; which offers some post graduate theory and criticism of art and design, are being neglected in most art schools throughout the world.

In contrast to visual communication design, the history of art in general was established in the early 20th century as a full-fledged academic discipline and as a subject for study with a broad appeal to general public. Although  from time to time some analytical research dealing with various dimensions of communication design history has been presented at academic conferences and some articles incorporating historical analysis  have appeared in publications such as Design Issues and Journal of Design History; one cannot escape from the fact that the amount of research on visual communication is still very scant, particularly  in comparison  to the numerous books produced by scholars working in the fields of art, architecture, or film. This is not surprising since although the history of graphic design, as these notes attempt to show, goes to the prehistorical time, and incorporates a wide range of activities, its academic recognition is relatively a new phenomenon.


why do we need to study the history of visual communication design?

But, why do we need to study the history of visual communication design? One may argue that such a study would be essential for a philosophical grounding of the practitioners, and would allow them to approach their projects with a richer socio-ethical perspective, make it possible for them to arrive at a more informed decisions, and would allow for incorporation of various critically important human dimensions. In short, the inspiration of an informed designer would result in a more authentic creation that would communicate human values, avoid insensitivity to the state of human drama, and would minimize the occurrence of avoidable mistakes. As Andrew Blauvelt, editor of the three “critical histories” issues of Visible Language has argued:

The notion of design as a field of study without practical application is unlikely and undesirable. After all, it is the practice of graphic design — no matter how wanting or limiting — that provides the basis for a theory of graphic design. [. . .] The calls for graphic design to be a liberal art — a quest for academic legitimacy — need to be supplanted by strategies which foster “critical making,” teaching when, how, and why to question things.

The evolution, success, and usefulness of contemporary design-practices, including the professionalism of the field, as Deitmar Winkler argues are tightly linked to the thorough grounding of design practitioners in the understanding of human factors, namely the knowledge of the complex interrelationships between psychological and social behaviors of individuals and groups, their ethnic histories and social organizational systems, and the cultural values, which are expressed through their religions, laws, music, literature, etiquettes, customs, languages, metaphors and artifacts, and which either hinder or facilitate interpersonal and intercultural communication. A history of graphic design cannot ignore those human factors, but unfortunately,  almost all the extant histories always do ignore these factors. Not only the present state of design education, as Winkler contends, is still vocational – technical and not intellectually matures – a direct continuation of the Bauhaus-spawned design guild training and anti-intellectualism, but more so is its history, which is really a vocational and technical history.

About History of visual communication

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