Thursday, April 25, 2019

Visual literacy and the expression-idea continuum #lilac19

My (Sheila's) final liveblog from the LILAC Conference is Visual literacy and the expression-idea continuum will be a presentation from Vicky Grant, Amy Haworth and Ruth Mallalieu (University of Sheffield Library, so the library of my own university).
Firstly Grant asked us what we could learn about visual literacy from LOLcats! She quoted Milner (2014) who talked about how LOLcats were an example of how people could convey ideas, emotions, identity through using images.
Grant highlighted a move to student learning with a more active role, engaging more creatively and critically as a way of knowing. It is also part of being more inclusive and acknowledging the value of the everyday, and expression through the visual. Grant presented the practice of creative bricolage "the remixing of creative sources, through digital skills and tools". She used an example from her own doctoral research, which is exploring experience of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Medical pictures of those with IBS usually present them as headless (showing the patient torso), so the people in her project created pictures of their heads and framed them in wood, like the formal portraits of male academics round the university.
Mallalieu then talked about the expression/idea dichotomy: that the expression of an idea is subject to copyright (e.g. a drawing of a penguin with a blue beak), but the idea (e.g. of a penguin having a blue beak) is not. However, it may not be so clear cut in practice, and the issue is important given the growth in remix culture.
Mallalieu identified scholarly culture and copyright culture and the extent to which they do and do not overlap (e.g. a scientific article might follow a scholarly tradition of having a large number of authors, some of whom did not have a direct intellectual input to the text). She talked about the framework and material used at Sheffield
Finally Haworth talked about the Information and Digital Literacy framework developed and used at Sheffield University, which integrates visual literacy in the various elements of the framework. The library runs co-curricular workshops, including understanding and questioning images, and copyright of images. They also cover referencing and attributing images; creating and editing images (including both the practical tools and the ethical issues); and creating infographics. The subject guides include visual sources where appropriate (and where copyright allows!) There is a workshop on using images which is aimed at academic staff, and this has proved popular.
They are scoping what they are doing against the Association of College and Research Libraries' current Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (which is under revision).

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