Sunday, July 18, 2010

Visual Literacy Reading List

I am developing a project about visual literacy/interpreting images/universal stories/archetypes and have powered through several books related to the subject over the last month. I thought I'd share that list and a quick take on what I've read.

The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do
- Clotaire Rapaille
By far the most interesting book on the subject of "culture" I've read in a long time. A very enjoyable read.

Reading Pictures: What We Think About When We Look at Art
- Alberto Manguel
An excellent read for those with a strong interest in art and art history.I recommend his lecture on Picasso (video) before picking up his book.

All Consuming Images
- Stuart Ewen
I've reread this book several times over the years. A must read for any serious student of media and culture.

Subliminal Seduction
-Wilson Bryan Key
A classic. A bit heavy on conspiracy theory but some of the the ad deconstructions are fascinating. You have to give it props, Marshal McLuhan wrote the introduction.

Ways of Seeing
-John Berger

About Looking
-John Berger
A classic on the subject of visual literacy.

The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man
- Marshall McLuhan
One of McLuhan's lesser read books and one of my favorites. The book is primarily a collection of 2 page essays, many deconstructing advertisements or aspects of media.

Decoding Advertisements
-Judith Williamson
A very serious semiotics perspective on advertising. I wish the writing style wasn't so academic but the deconstructions are excellent.


Frank said...

I would add/recommend:

The Alphabet Vs The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain

The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin

The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word by Mitchell Stephens

Picture Perfect by Kiku Adatto

Thomas Sherman said...


Thank you very much for the recommendations. I read Boorstin's "Image" years ago, a book certainly worth rereading.

There seems to be 2 books called Picture Perfect by Kiku Adatto. Different subtitles and dates published?

Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op

Picture Perfect: The Art And Artifice Of Public Image Making.