Power in the Picture

Visual Image as Significant Structure and Communication Resource

A Seminar on Visual Communication
by Mariano Akerman

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT)
Johar Campus, H-8/1, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad
March 2011

Power in the Picture: Visual Image as Significant Structure and Communication Resource

Session 1
The Visual Image
1. Nature
- Medium
- Type
- Structure
- Context
- Function
- Meaning
2. Representation, Visualization, Creation

Session 2
Visual Communication
1. Communication Theory
- Sender, Message, Receiver
- Means
- Style
- Intention
- Effect
2. Principles of effectiveness
- Design
- Substance
- Decorum
- Originality
- Clarity
- Brevity
- Empathy

Graphic visualization. Visualization is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the generation of images, diagrams, or animations aiming to communicate a message. Visualization through visual imagery has been an effective way to communicate both concrete and abstract ideas since the dawn of man. Examples from history include cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek geometry, and Leonardo da Vinci's revolutionary methods of technical drawing for engineering and scientific purposes. The development of animation and computer graphics also helped to advance visualization.
Today visualization has ever-expanding applications in medicine and science, education, art, product visualization and interactive multimedia.

A picture is worth a thousand words. This short and memorable saying expresses a truth and has gained credibility through its long use. The adage refers to the idea that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, which aims to make possible the absortion of large amounts of data quickly.

It is believed that the modern use of the phrase stems from an article by Fred R. Barnyard, which carries an ad entitled "One Look is Worth A Thousand Words" (Printers' Ink, 1921; The History of A Picture's Worth).
Despite the twentieth-century origin of the popular phrase, the sentiment has been expressed by earlier writers, such as the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev who wrote that "A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound" (Fathers and Sons, 1862). The idea is sometimes also attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, who said "Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours" (A good sketch is better than a long speech). Significantly, his words are often translated "A picture is worth a thousand words" and such translation may not predate the phrase's common use in English.


Pakistan Art Workshop and Exhibition

To celebrate Pakistani culture, a workshop and exhibit organized by painter Mariano Akerman take place at the ISOI today.

Devoted to explore local motifs and pattern-making, the workshop attracts some three dozens of participants.

Akerman's paintings, which include several of his "Inner Constellations," are shown outdoors, together with the images created by everyone who attends today's workshop.

Jornada Internacional de Arte con Exposición en Pakistán

Con ánimos de celebrar la cultura pakistaní, un taller de dibujo y acuarela conjuntamente con la exposición de trabajos son organizados hoy por Mariano Akerman en ISOI Campus, Islamabad.

Dedicado a explorar los motivos locales y la creación de tramas y diseños a partir de los mismos, el taller atrae unas tres docenas de participantes de todas las edades.

El taller es desarrollado por Rashida Samar y Mariano Akerman. Forma parte de un evento anual que es organizado por Joan Lewin-Pohl.

Las pinturas de Akerman, que incluyen varias de sus "Constelaciones interiores," son exhibidas al aire libre y a ellas se le suman otras producidas por quienes participan en las jornadas de arte del día de hoy.

Pakistan Art Workshop on the Behance Network
by Mariano Akerman and Rashida Samar


Visual Communication at COMSATS

"Tradition and Innovation" is the title of Mariano Akerman's lecture on Architecture and Design which was given at the main library of the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Johar Campus, H-8/1, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad today.

The event was attended by 60 participants who showed a sustained interest in the multi-faceted topic of the day and formulated questions concerning the nature of art and architecture today and their possible projections in the near future.

by Mariano Akerman

Pt. 1. Design as Ordered Realm
1a. Vitruvius' architectural principles: utilitas (function), firmitas (structure), venustas (aesthetics).
1b. Interplay between architectural space and its limits (Lao Tsu: useful is not the shape of a vessel, but its inner space).
1c. History as a resource of memory and identity.
1d. The designer's responsability concerning History or "Shouldn't one learn from the past?"

Pt. 2. Design as Historical Development
2a. Prehistory as a ground for speculation.
2b. Tradition from Ancient Egypt to 18th-Century France. Mimesis. Fine-Arts Academies.
2c. 19th-Century Dilemmas. The quest for freedom in times of the Industrial Revolution. The new materials (Paxton and Eiffel), Historicism (Jones: Grammar of Ornament) and crisis of style (Eclecticism). Vincent van Gogh's approach toward mimesis.
2d. 20th-Century Innovation. Pictorial avant-garde (Matisse, Soutine, Kandinsky, Malevitch). Ornament as a Crime (Loos). Functionalism (Bauhaus, Mies van der Rohe: "form follows function"). Criticism (Oppenheim).


1. Learnings from The Silk Road

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a jar,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

Thus benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

Lao Tsu (551-479 BCE), Tao Te Ching (Daodejing, 道德經), chapter 11

2. The Main Issue

From cradle to grave this problem of running
order through chaos, direction through space,
discipline through freedom, unity through
multiplicity, has always been, and must
always be, the task of education.

The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography, Boston: Houghton Mitflin, 1961, p. 9

Addendum. À propos "form follows function"

Caloi, Caloidoscopio, image #33

Eric Lafforgue, Untitled, photograph, Mount Hagen Singsing, Papua, 2008

Johann Georg Hertel (after Jeremias Wachsmuth), Winter, Rococo Music, Fancy Dress Ball, etching, 1750-60

Méret Oppenheim, Breakfast in Fur (Le Déjeuner en Fourrure), 1936. Fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon. Museum of Modern Art, New York

Humor by Mordillo

"Drop excess baggage," add by the beauty care company VLCC Sliming, Skin and Hair Services, 2007

Johann Esaias Nilson (1721-1788), Neues Caffehaus (New Coffee House), colored engraving, Augsburg, Germany, 1756

Javier Inga, The Lie Covered, Argentina, 2008

Grass-Sofa, France, 24.4.2010


Jake Crees, Oops, mahogany, 2001.

Tradition and Innovation
The Nature and Evolution of Art and Architecture as Structures of Consciousness, by Mariano Akerman

Power in the Picture
Visual Image as Significant Structure and Communication Resource: A Seminar on Visual Communication, by Mariano Akerman