Using Local Content Teaching Visual Narrative in the Gulf


Visual communication is a global activity and often demands using visual language that will be understood across cultures. Lack of place specificity is often considered desirable in design. But the trend toward visual globalization can have the disadvantage of taking students in many regions away from the visual language they are familiar with, leaving them, visually, speechless. For my students in the Gulf region, this often results in appropriation of only partly understood signs, symbols and images, resulting in problematic visual communication. In effect, not only do I ask students to use a verbal language, English, that may be their second or third one, but I also ask them to use a visual language that my derive little from their own visual experience. If we apprehend the world primarily visually as Arnheim argues, the ability to use one's personal visual vocabulary is necessary for effective visual communication. The paper will discuss the development of locally based narratives in animation, film, and graphic novels in the context of the UAE. Students make use of locally sourced textual and visual information. Once subject matter is grounded in a familiar locale, appropriation from other cultures becomes less problematic. Some student produced narratives are illustrated texts, while others begin with visual information around which a narrative is formed. The paper will propose that emphasis on local narratives and imagery can play a small part in transforming the region from content consumer into a net content creator.

Author Information
Bob Dahm, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2014
Stream: Arts - Teaching and Learning the Arts

This paper is part of the ECAH2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon