Visual Communication

Spring 2018 Schedule

The course schedule and syllabus will be posted here prior to the Spring 2018 semester.

Our Visual World

Week 1 | Jan. 8-12

“The relation between what we see and what we know is
never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know
that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the
explanation, never quite fits the sight.” — John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Course Syllabus (or as printable PDF)
How do our brains reconstruct the visual world?
My Grandmother’s Shroud

Recommended Reading:
Why We Miss Things in Front of Us

Slides: Welcome overview, How We See, Light + Time

Links: Visual memory game, change blindness game, Canon simulator, CameraSim

Assignment: Self-Portrait & Personal Meaning (due Jan. 16)

Copyright & Composition

Week 2 | Jan. 15-19

No class Monday, Jan. 15, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. … That tension will not go away.” — Stewart Brand, 1987

“Design Basics” chapter excerpt, The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman

Recommended Reading:
Knight-Gallup report on Americans’ views of the media (or this summary)

Slides: Copyright & Image Use, Image Composition

Assignment: Photo Selection and Formatting (due Jan. 21)

Power of Photography

Week 3 | Jan. 22-26

“If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it.” — New York Times review of Mathew Brady’s Civil War photographs, 1862

National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics
Five Photo Tips
The Superhero Photographs of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Slides: Current Events Images, Influential Early Photographs

Assignment: Photo Scavenger Hunt (due Jan. 28)

Both Sides of the Lens

Week 4 | Jan. 29-Feb. 2

“It’s not easy always to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the sufferings around one.” — Robert Capa

Avoid the Trap of Immigration Porn
How Newsrooms Handle Graphic Images of Violence

Recommended Reading:
We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs
The Unexpected Beauty of Basketball Synchronicity
The Delicate Balance of Style Photos from War-Torn South Sudan
Time Travel for Photographers (exhibit feature)

Slides: Ethics of “Taking” Photos, Visual Stereotypes

Links: Skiing photo set

Assignment: Toning in Photoshop

Manipulation & Verification

Week 5 | Feb. 5-9

“And all photographs wait to be explained or falsified by their captions.” — Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

“The Integrity of the Image” World Press Photo report, Parts 5-7 (pages 7-13)
“Lies, Damn Lies, and Viral Content” Tow Center report, pages 29-34 (starting with “The Power of Misinformation”)

Recommended Reading:
The Search for Jackie Wallace

Slides: Image Manipulation, Image Verification

Assignment: Photo Illustrations & Ethics (due Feb. 11)

Historic photo selection for the midterm due Feb. 11

Narratives & Sequencing

Week 6 | Feb. 12-16

“When there is a push-and-pull between images shot at different distances and focal lengths, it produces a narrative motion that propels a viewer forward through a set of images.” — Alex Garcia

What Makes for Compelling Images: Reflections from the Pictures of the Year Contest

Links: Peruvian sheep herders, nuclear ghosts, 40 Portraits in 40 Years, college classmates then and now, Abandoned Poconos, Iraqi refugee, “Inventing my Father”, Tal Afar example, Tiny

Assignment: Midterm Historic Photo Analysis

Exam 1 on Friday, Feb. 16

Midterm Presentations

Week 7 | Feb. 19-23

No class Monday, Feb. 19, for Presidents Day

Links: Midterm submitted links list

Recommended Reading:
It’s time to show the carnage of mass shootings (Slate) and related research
How Larry Nassar’s Trial Made the Case for Cameras in the Court (New Yorker) and related multimedia

Midterm project due Wednesday, Feb. 21

Assignment: Midterm Reflection

Symbols & Icons

Week 8 | Feb. 26-March 2

“Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) — Rene Magritte

An Introduction To Semiotics
Skeuomorphism is dead, long live skeuomorphism

Slides: Icons & Symbols, Universal Visual Language?

Assignment: News Icons


Week 9 | March 5-9

Not unlike your favorite food tasting better on fine china then on paper plates, the choice of typeface can radically impact meaning while hopefully going consciously unnoticed. — Martin McClellan

Playtype Foundry Typographer’s Glossary
How Typography Can Save Your Life

Slides: Writing & Typography, Why Typography Matters

Links: Shape Type, Kern Type, Type Connection, InDesign exercise file

Assignment: Text Layout

March 12-16: Spring Break

Designing for Print

Week 10 | March 19-23

“Print and paper has a lasting value that people appreciate. Pixels are too temporary.” — Praveen Madan

50 Design Terms Explained Simply
The Design School Guide To Visual Hierarchy

Recommended Reading:
DeVos used Shutterstock picture to criticize U.S. schools (WaPo)
For Decades, Our Coverage was Racist (National Geographic)
Photographing Massacre Survivors as Individuals, Not Statistics

Slides: Simple Gestalt, Print Design Basics, Print vs. Web

Assignment: Hierarchy with HTML and CSS

Designing for Web & Mobile

Week 11 | March 26-30

What I sense is a real tension between the web as we know it, and the web as it would be. It’s the tension between an existing medium, the printed page, and its child, the web. And it’s time to really understand the relationship between the parent and the child, and to let the child go its own way in the world. — John Allsopp

A Dao of Web Design
15 Years of Dao

Recommended Reading:
Design Trends 2018 (Muzli)
Visual Trends 2018 (Getty Images)

Slides: Designing the Web

Links: Wireframe guessing game

Assignment: Grid System Web Layout


Week 12 | April 2-6

“Color is a power which directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another to cause vibrations in the soul.” — Wassily Kandinsky (translated)

• Smashing Magazine Color Theory for Designers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Color Theory for Photographers

Slides: Color Theory, Color Schemes

Links: WSU Style Guide, Color Calculator, Adobe Color, HTML Color Picker, Paletton,, Colormind, Canva generator

Activity: Submit pink and blue here

Assignment: Color Schemes & Project Idea

Visualizing Data

Week 13 | April 9-13

“…as soon as you have found the names, you see at one glance, without the help of Arithmetic, or even of words, and in the most clear and perfect manner possible, the relation of these lives to one another.” — Joseph Priestly, about his “New Chart of Biography” (1765)

Hubspot Data Visualization 101

Recommended Reading:
North Face “Vision Science Technology” training tights
Target’s 2018 Swimwear Ads Are All Photoshop-Free
How Wikipedia Portrayed Humanity in a Single Photo

Slides: Data Visualization

Assignment: Making & Evaluating Charts

Evolving Visual Language

Week 14 | April 16-20

“Witness the rise of a new visual vocabulary. Photos, along with emojis, video snippets, GIFs, and other imagery, are replacing written language for many of the things we once relied on words to express.” — Jessi Hempel

Recommended Reading:
PhotoViz (and related Tumblr)
Howdy Sheriff Twitter Meme Baffles Internet
How The New York Times is trying to preserve millions of old pages

Slides: Semester Review

Exam 2 on Friday, April 20

Project Reveal

Week 15 | April 23-27

Final project due Monday, April 23, at class time (8:10 or 9:10)

Finals Week

Week 16 | April 30-May 4

There is no final exam for this course.