• Katsushika, Hokusai, 1760-1849, artist, [between 1804 and 1818] 1 print : woodcut, color ; 23.2 x 17.2 cm.

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  • Katsushika, Hokusai, 1760-1849, artist, [between 1804 and 1818] 1 print : woodcut, color ; 23.2 x 17.2 cm.
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Visual Stimuli that Constructs Communication

Author: SIlvino Alexander

Communication is paramount to the institution of culture.  Communication is not just the transference of information, language, and knowledge; it is the cornerstone of how individuals are brought together to form traditions, beliefs, and a way of life.  This essay investigates how culture, whether it is a large collection of individuals, or the sub-division of the former, can examine the content of communication, explore the importance of symbols or symbolic narration, and examine how educators could apply a cross-curricula pedagogical practice in the classroom.

Graffiti art is one element of Hip-Hop culture.  The art form evolved from individuals “tagging” or subjectively writing their names or other phrases on walls and other nondescript objects to creating large “burners” or murals on subway cars in New York City, and eventually blank stretched-canvases that would hang in museums.  The creation of Graffiti art was a direct response to young people in the inner city being marginalized.  The art form became a rebellious way to showcase artistic talent that would not otherwise be displayed in major art galleries.  Graffiti artists used the medium to communicate ideas to one another by creating styles within the art form that would only speak to them and others who were familiar with the practice. 

Juxtaposing the notion of an art form that was not taken seriously and looked upon with a negative connotation, Egyptian hieroglyphics has been lauded as one of the first art forms ever created.  The simplistic motifs and elongated design symbolism became the narrative of Ancient Egyptian life.  When one takes a close examination of the art form it could be considered an early form of graffiti.  A major difference between both art forms is the letter manipulation of graffiti as opposed to the production of symbols in hieroglyphics.  Also, many of the individuals that created graffiti at a high level during the 1970s and early 1980s came from a lower socio-economic position while the wealthy in Egyptian life commissioned the manufacturing of hieroglyphics to tell stories and express the establishment of customs and traditions of the civilization. 

When looking and discussing contemporary art design, the use of modern technology seems to mirror various aspects of both graffiti and Egyptian hieroglyphics.  The use of cellular phones has been revolutionary in the way individuals communicate with one another.  The procedure of text messaging when examined closely parallels certain aspects of both graffiti art and Egyptian hieroglyphics.  As with graffiti, the manipulation of SMS (Short Messaging Service) language while texting allows individuals to practice a form of short-handed slang when delivering messages. 

Many cellular phone consumers use emoji symbols in addition to SMS language to convey emotional communication when text messaging.  Sometimes the use of emojis is all an individual may use to relay information.  The use of this cellular phone application is very close to the symbolic depictions of Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Ancient Egyptians wanted to tell stories and express the traditions and customs of Egyptian life through their illustrations just like with emojis.

The use of a compare and contrast analysis of graffiti art, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and modern cellular phone technology can be beneficial for educators to use in the classroom.  This cross-curricular application has the ability to give educators a new platform they can use to help educate their students.  The installing of THAL (Technology, History, The Arts, and Literacy) can allow educators to apply literacy practices in the classroom using an art and history perspective while integrating the use of modern technology.  Just as with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), students can use THAL as an anchor or foundation for progressive education integration.  The pedagogical application of THAL would be from a qualitative approach, as opposed to STEM which seems to be more quantitative driven.

The ways in which individuals communicate with one another has changed over time.  Examining how graffiti art, Egyptian hieroglyphics and SMS language can define communication content through the application of THAL has the possibility to introduce innovative ways students can learn in and out of the classroom.

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