13 November 2006
Colin Wood, Publisher, Design Graphics
Colin Wood, Publisher, Design Graphics

This issue of 'Design Graphics' includes a lot of pictures. So what you see is what you get. There are no words to guide you. Whatever you think you see is the product of your mind; an interaction between the creator and the viewer. Speech is good for imparting information. Live and in-person it makes you part of the event, even if you say nothing yourself. Sound adds atmosphere.Listening (as opposed to hearing) is an art and must be learned. The same differentiation can be made between seeing and viewing, although we probably don't divide the two as keenly as we should.

Part of the problem is that we use the word 'see' to mean both the active and passive modes of vision. Even so, we have many words and phrases that demonstrate how important vision is. In addition to simply seeing events, we can 'witness' them. We invite people to 'picture this' and offer to 'put them in the picture.' If in doubt, 'seeing is believing' and when checking whether something has been understood we say 'do you see that?

While all of our readers are probably 'visual' people, many will agree that there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had from listening; to radio or music or even the sound of the street outside. If you listen to music, your eyes can turn off, go to sleep (as it were). Your brain can make your aural sense more acute, especially if you are in a tranquil environment.

Listening to someone read a passage from a book allows you to create the scene in your mind. That scene will be different for each of us. While we can appreciate the words, once they form sentences with meaning, we probably form pictures in our mind. Words are remembered as pictures, feelings and emotions. To spell correctly you must ensure that the pictures of the words are according to the rules.

The more visual you are, the more you can gain from pictures; the more you notice and the more subtleties you pick up. The language of pictures is complicated but most of us have no formal training in it. We see, therefore we are.In one way this is simple self-awareness; a common test for consciousness. The teacher bangs the blackboard to gain our attention.

Later on in life, someone interrupts the movie to play a television commercial. They both sheer across our reverie and prove (to me at least) that the price of a movie theatre ticket is well worthwhile to prevent someone else trying to sell me something.

One picture at a time please. It is said that human language started so that we could gossip; to talk about the neighbours. That is, to perpetuate a thought. Thoughts can be real or imagined, true or untrue. Either way they can be perpetuated. Permanence (and greater veracity) was introduced with painting (especially with portraits).

Photography took up where painting left off. Kodak hit the nail on the head when they promoted photographs as memories. Despite the actuality of the family photo album, we contrive to remember things the way we want. The 'good old days' are a selection of favourites with all of the duds trashed. It makes us feel better about ourselves, our family and our friends.

Pictures can be the product of fertile, creative minds. Sometimes we set down exactly what we mean, and at other times we surprise ourselves with what we produce. If we could only make our hands do what our minds want what a boring place it would be.

Pictures can start you thinking and they can stop you thinking. They are both a start point and an end point. The key is to know the difference. To do that we must have a picture of ourselves.

Colin Wood
Design Graphics magazine

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