Reference Entry

Visual culture

Marita Sturken

in Oxford Art Online


Published online June 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T2093950

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  • Digital and New Media, Multi-Media, Sound, and Music Art
  • Film and Video Art
  • Installation Art, Mixed-Media, Assemblage, and Collage
  • Painting
  • Performance Art and Dance
  • Photography and Photographs
  • Prints and Printmaking
  • Architecture
  • Art Education
  • History of Art
  • Art of the United States
  • 19th-Century Art
  • 20th-Century Art
  • Contemporary Art

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Culture of images and visuality that creates meaning in our world today. This includes media forms such as photography, film, television, and digital media; art media such as painting, drawing, prints, and installations; architecture and design; comic books and graphic novels; fashion design, and other visual forms including the look of urban life itself. It also encompasses such social realms as art, news, popular culture, advertising and consumerism, politics, law, religion, and science and medicine. The term visual culture also refers to the interdisciplinary academic field of study that aims to study and understand the role that images and visuality play in our society; how images, gazes, and looks make meaning socially, culturally, and politically; how images are integrated with other media; and how visuality shapes power, meaning, and identity in contemporary global culture.

The emergence of the concept of visual culture as a means to think about the role of images in culture and as an academic field of study is a relatively recent phenomenon, emerging in the late 1980s and becoming established by the late 1990s. There were numerous factors that contributed to the idea that images should be understood and analysed across social arenas rather than as separate categories, including the impact of digital media on the circulation of images across social realms, the modern use of images from other social arenas (such as news and advertising) in art, and the cross-referencing of cultural forms displayed in popular culture and art. It was also influenced by the increasingly visible role played by images in political conflict and a general trend toward interdisciplinarity in academia....

Reference Entry.  3023 words. 

Subjects: Digital and New Media, Multi-Media, Sound, and Music Art ; Film and Video Art ; Installation Art, Mixed-Media, Assemblage, and Collage ; Painting ; Performance Art and Dance ; Photography and Photographs ; Prints and Printmaking ; Architecture ; Art Education ; History of Art ; Art of the United States ; 19th-Century Art ; 20th-Century Art ; Contemporary Art

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