Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

The 'Factual' Film in a Visual Age

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

The 'Factual' Film in a Visual Age

Article excerpt

The social pattern behind the great appeal of news in pictorial form appears unmistakable. Sources of popular knowledge in the current era are becoming primarily visual rather than verbal. The development of rapid and inexpensive methods for reproduction of news drawings and subsequently of news photographs, since about 1850, has not only made news in pictures possible, but has actually encouraged Americans to absorb their information and to try to understand even their complex problems by pictorial means. They have increasingly adopted news drawings, news photographs, animated charts and diagrams, which substitute visual abstractions for verbal.

The contemporary popularity of Life magazine is not accidental, as the number of inferior imitations shows. These media have been by no means exclusive, but it appears obvious that the motion pictures have simply extended the pictorial trend. In fact, it can be argued that without popular demand for such a medium of information the motion pictures might not have been born when they were. In the years 1896-1897 literally dozens of inventors were striving in secret to create the devices which would capitalize on an unmistakable popular desire. …

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