The Psychology of Graphic Images: Seeing, Drawing, Communicating

By Manfredo Massironi; Nicola Bruno | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Human history is commonly understood to begin with the appearance of the first written document; anything that happened before the advent of writing is regarded as belonging to prehistory. And in western culture, the earliest systematic conventions for the format of graphic communication of words were developed in the Sumeric period, approximately 3,000 years BCE. But the intentional practice of marking stone, ivory, or bone with signs, figures and etchings had been cultivated for thousands of years before the appearance of written language. In fact, the very practice of writing derives from the earlier practice of drawing. According to the most accurate recent estimates (1), Paleolithic art dates back as far as the European cave etchings of 30,000 years ago.

Thus, the history of drawing and of graphic notation began much earlier than the beginning of history proper. Graphics must have been indispensable tools for social and cultural evolution. They are tools for transmitting and communicating information, but they are also tools for preserving its content. Most likely, they were the earliest medium for information storage. Despite all the new technologies available to us, this medium shows no sign of having exhausted its value.


WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT

For the average person, "drawing" is the manual skill of generating signs to represent what one sees. As it applies to such diverse products as the drawings of artists, engineers, and children, this notion is essentially correct, but it is also oversimplified. The world of graphics is a complex and articulated structure, founded on a set of rules and on mechanisms that we can identify and describe. But it has been given scarce speculative attention, perhaps because it often is considered to belong to those few individuals on which nature bestowed a gifted hand.

I will use the terms "drawing" and "graphic communication" to refer to any set of marks produced with any suitable instrument for the purpose of communication without words. As a method of communicating, drawings

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The Psychology of Graphic Images: Seeing, Drawing, Communicating
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Psychology of Graphic Images - Seeing, Drawing, Communicating *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Invariance and Transformation 25
  • Chapter 3 - The Elusive Context 48
  • Chapter 4 - The Quest for Balance 65
  • Chapter 5 - What Makes a Graphic Image Work 97
  • Chapter 6 - Visualizing the Invisible *
  • Chapter 7 - Seeing and Showing Time 178
  • Chapter 8 - Graphics and Perception 215
  • Chapter 9 - Ambiguity and Information 243
  • Chapter 10 - Toward a Taxonomy of Drawings 267
  • Notes 289
  • References 297
  • Author Index 305
  • Subject Index 309
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