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Visual Communication

Visual Communication
Understanding Images in Media Culture

First Edition
  • Giorgia Aiello - University of Milan, Italy, University of Bologna, Italy, University of Leeds, UK and University of Bologna, Italy, University of Leeds, UK
  • Katy Parry - University of Leeds, UK

November 2019 | 312 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

In today’s digital media environment we are creating and consuming more images than ever before. From the importance of image in politics, to the ubiquity of the ‘selfie’ across social media platforms, visual communication is increasingly central to our everyday mediated lives.

It is more important than ever to examine the social and cultural implications of mediated images – but how can we really interrogate the work that images do?

Visual Communication: Understanding Images in Media Culture provides a theoretical and empirical toolkit to do just that. It explores a range of approaches to visual analysis, while also providing a hands-on guide to applying a diverse range of methods to your own work. The book:

  • Illustrates multiple perspectives, from content analysis and semiotics, to multimodal and critical discourse analysis.
  • Explores the centrality of images to issues of identity and representation, politics and activism, and commodities and consumption.
  • Brings theory to life with a host of original case studies, from celebrity videos on YouTube and civil unrest on Twitter, to the lifestyle branding of Vice Media and Getty Images.
  • Shows you how to combine approaches and methods to best suit your own research questions and projects.  

An invaluable guide to analysing contemporary media images, this is essential reading for students and researchers of visual communication and visual culture. 

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Understanding images in media culture: methodological considerations
Chapter 3: Envisioning the self in digital media
Chapter 4: Communicating visions of collective identity
Chapter 5: Ways of seeing difference beyond stereotypes
Chapter 6: Images of politicians in the public sphere
Chapter 7: The visual spectacles of protest and activism
Chapter 8: Picturing international conflict and war
Chapter 9: The visual attractions of advertising and promotional culture
Chapter 10: Visualizing lifestyles as commodities
Chapter 11: Brands as visual experiences
Chapter 12: Conclusion

This smart and engaging book introduces readers to some of the most pressing debates in visual communications studies. Effective in making often-opaque theories accessible, Aiello and Parry situate these debates in relation to a diverse toolkit of current research methods. Eighteen thickly-contextualized case studies skillfully illustrate the various steps students need to design their own projects. 

Wendy Kozol
Oberlin College and Conservatory

Organised around the themes of identities, politics and commodification, this book offers multiple conceptual insights into how images are created, circulated, seen, sold, modified and destroyed. Its themes and arguments are grounded in a series of detailed and clearly written examples, which also explore the methodological implications of approaching images as forms of visual communication. All this adds up to a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary visual culture.

Gillian Rose
University of Oxford

How can we understand images in media culture? Writing with clarity, insight and flair, Aiello and Parry show us that while there is no simple answer, there are many good analytical paths to pursue, demonstrating their value across no less than eighteen case studies – from political memes to photojournalism to Hollywood movie trailers and commercial imagery. Focusing on how visual communication is entangled with identities, politics and commodities, this book is not only an exemplary introduction to visual communication research: it is a significant and timely guide to the powers and properties of contemporary images.

Paul Frosh
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Compelling and wide-reaching… Aiello and Parry provide us with a sense of how persuasive the visual is today and how it insinuates itself into all aspects of life, from everyday interactions to the dramas of high politics, from advertising to crisis diplomacy, and from selfies to national celebrations.

Roland Bleiker
The International Journal of Press/Politics
The International Journal of Press/Politics

Aiello and Parry have chosen to focus on one important visual site: mediated images, according to three theoretically rich approaches: identity, politics and commodities. Each chapter is supported by their own case studies of contemporary visual phenomena, such as iconicity in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the discursive strategies of the opening title sequence from the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, and the design strategies that distinguish the website… their project will be welcome not only to many classrooms but to the field at large.

Mary Angela Bock
Visual Communication
Visual Communication

Giorgia Aiello and Katy Parry present the subject of visual communication in various contexts, not avoiding difficult, ethically demanding and contemporary topics. They show the power of images in the contemporary media sphere.

Recenzja Ksiazki
Uniwersytet Warszawski
Studio Medionawcze marks the maturation of the visual research discipline. Aiello and Parry’s focused attention on the way mediated images operate culturally ensures that their project will be welcome not only to many classrooms but to the field at large.

Mary Angelia Bock
University of Texas at Austin, USA
SAGE Journal of Visual Communication

The broad conceptual and empirical spectrum covered by Aiello and Parry is truly impressive. They provide us with a sense of how persuasive the visual is today and how it insinuates itself into all aspects of life, from everyday interactions to the dramas of high politics, from advertising to crisis diplomacy, and from selfies to national celebrations.

Roland Bleiker
University of Queensland, Australia
SAGE International Journal of Press/Politics

They consciously address diversity, inclusion, gender and stereotypes. The relevance of the book also lies in encouraging and supporting lecturers to include visual communication in their curriculum: The world, be it online or offline, is shaped by images and it is necessary that these, along with their Forms of origin and their scope for interpretation can be read and understood. Although the term "visual literacy" is not included in the index, Aiellos and Parry's book is aimed precisely at this competence.

Evelyn Runge
Cologne University
Medien Wissenschaft

Interesting, creative and insightful

Dr Ilkay Taş Gürsoy
Reha Midilli Tourism Faculty, Dokuz Eylul Universitesi
March 2, 2020

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