Thursday, October 28, 2010

Visualization: The Promise of the 21st Century

Until relatively recently in human history it has been difficult to reproduce and distribute visual images the way the Gutenberg press enabled us to reproduce and disseminate the written word. With advanced technologies, however, we now have the capacity for mass distribution of drawings, photos, film, video and digital animation. This is having a tremendous impact on the development of the human brain and is unlocking capacities lying unexploited in our right hemispheres and occipital lobes.

It is clear that one of the greatest transformations in human intellectual growth will happen during this century and will require a complete paradigm shift in how we value and accept visual images in the scholarly psyche. Currently there is a deep and systematic opposition to the acceptance of visual images as serious forms of thinking and communication at every level of our educational system. Progress in human intellectual development is being systematically hampered by our refusal to accept and exploit the power of visualization.

Barbara Maria Stafford, over the last couple of decades, has written several books (left and right) documenting the intricate ways that images focus intentional behavior and allow us to feel thought and how complex images compress space and time to make visible the invisible ordering of human consciousness. Stafford says that making full use of contemporary visualization capabilities "means casting off vestigial biases automatically coupling printed words to introspective depth and pictures to dumbing down."

The real transformation of education in the 21st century will occur when the death-grip of textual communication is loosened enough to accept visual communication as a powerful tool and partner for thinking and communicating. The fear and loathing aimed at visualization promoted by the biases of "textism" is one of the latest forms of discrimination to take its place alongside sexism and racism.

Click on the heading above to learn more about Stafford's work.

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