What is "Visual Language"?
Why is it that most everyone can speak a language... But most people feel that they can't draw?
This is a curious asymmetry, since both speaking and drawing are natural, intrinsic human abilities for expressing our thoughts. My research argues that speaking and drawing are actually structured, processed, and developed in similar ways.
The human animal has only three ways of expressing the ideas in our minds: we can 1. create sounds, 2. move our bodies, and 3. draw images.
It's my theory that when any of these meaningful channels takes on a structured sequence governed by an underlying rule system (a grammar), it becomes a language.
Structured sequential sounds become spoken languages Structured sequential gestures with a grammar become sign languages. And structured sequential images can literally become a visual language.
In our culture, this visual language is predominately used in Just like novels are written in English, comics are written in a visual language, often combined with writing.
Like all languages, this visual linguistic modality unites with other modalities, creates an identity for speakers, uses a vocabulary, differs between cultures, is acquired across a development, and has been part of our biology for thousands of years.
Research on visual language can lend to insight into the overlap of cognition across domains, the general principles of our minds and brains, and hopefully the human condition.

 

To find out more about visual language research, check out...

My books

books

Downloadable Papers

Downloadable Papers

...and the Visual Linguist Blog.

Blog