Mimesis and Play: Generating Creativity in Visual Art Education through Pictorial Mind Mapping

In: Learning to See: The Meanings, Modes and Methods of Visual Literacy

This case study compares a selection of visual and oral representations that 15-16 year-old students produced through pictorial mind mapping and the appropriation of video game imagery to generate ideas for visual artwork. It presents the arguments for studying multimodal texts as part of a visual art curriculum and then provides an overview of one such program. The analysis of a group interview along with examples of the students’ work will highlight the relationship between knowledge of pictorial maps developed through formal study and knowledge of computer games gained outside the classroom. Judith Butler’s notion of performativity is used alongside a multimodal theory of sign making to argue that the way students interpret and produce visual texts is socially motivated, interactive and aimed at self representation within their peer groups. The students’ preference for digital image resources can be interpreted as a shift from mimetic to interactive learning styles in visual arts education, whereby observational drawing studies of actual objects as inspiration and tool for generating ideas were largely replaced by graphic, animated and interactive images, which students appropriated from video games. The students’ artworks demonstrated that integrating the semiotics of maps and video games increased the level of each student’s engagement. This mixed method provided a broad spectrum of devices through which students could condense, reshape and take ownership of visual texts to gain control and construct meaning from media-derived images as a form of self-articulation. Following on from Judith Butler’s concept of performativity, it was apparent that by appropriating computer graphics, combined with pictorial mapping practices, students adopted selected narratives from video games as a platform for self representation. The conclusion highlights the suitability of visual texts to condense and contextualise information and examines implications for visual and mental mapping conventions in the classroom, particularly with regard to program design for teenage students.

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