Information-processing research indicated how effective visuals were in enhancing attention and memory. But other reasons abound for advertisers to communicate through visuals. First of all, a visual can reduce the range of interpretation a person may place on a text. Visuals can help fix the meaning of a text. And once language is reduced to secondary status as a form of communication, theoretically one can communicate with the whole world. As an article entitled "International Advertising" advised, "to globalize-- visualize". (Kernan & Domzal, 1995, p.52) We are perhaps beginning to see the beginning of a "visual Esperanto" where communication through symbols and pictures speaks to all. (Bougery & Guimarnes, 1993, p. 22) Of course a major problem here is that symbols and pictures are languages to be learned like any other and they may not translate across cultures well.


Another problem with visual communication is that it lacks propositional syntax. This means that the author can not explicitly define the relationship between images. Are two images put together to suggest an analogy, a cause and effect, an endorsement, a contrast, a parallel, or a shift from general to specific? (Messaris, 1997, p.x) This deficiency actually turns out to be a strength for advertisers. First, though the Federal Trade Commission has shown interest in the potential for visual stimuli to deceive, they have been unable to do anything, because the claim can not be "pinned down" when presented visually. (Rossiter & Percy, 1983, p.110) The lack of propositional syntax makes for an oblique message that requires greater viewer participation. When the viewer decides that the images are connected in a cause/effect relationship, for example, the argument is a product of the viewers mind and has greater impact. (Messaris, 1997, p.xii) The nature of visual communication makes it ideal for advertisers and creates a series of issues concerning how children make meaning from images.

Visual communication does not oppose reasoning or logic per se, as the viewer can interpret logical relationships from pictures. However, certain techniques can confuse the viewer's ability to make meaning. As of 1993, the average shot-length on MTV videos was 1.6 seconds and for 30 second commercials the average shot length was 2.3 seconds. These numbers have dropped every year. (Maclahan, & Logan, 1993, p.59) When the sheer number and pace of images is so much so fast, the viewer may not be able to process the images with the rational mind. Which parts of the mind take up the processing of such pacing is a serious question for educators. How children make sense of such pacing is a necessary topic for research. Such pacing may have serious consequences for children's attention, and the expectation of a pace beyond what is usually experientially possible may create adjustment difficulties for children in the classroom.

Visuals can also be manipulated in ways that can undermine the viewers reasoning. Since their invention, pictures were understood to represent the real. But computer alteration can make a picture "lie". In 1988 only 5% of commercials employed some digital effect, but by 1993 90% used computer technology to alter, enhance, or create a picture. (Messaris, 1997, p.91) At this point pictures are losing their credibility as evidence, but the mind may take awhile to fully internalize that "seeing is not believing".


We need further understanding on how the mind processes the association of images in visual analogy or metaphor. If alcohol is associated with a young, attractive woman, certainly the advertiser wants to effect our attitude about the alcohol. But how are our attitudes about women effected in such an association? Certainly, analogies and metaphors must effect our understanding of both images in order to work. "Love is a rose" effects our beliefs about both love and the rose-- metaphors must be bi-directional in order to work. Advertisers have had difficulty accepting responsibility for this type of visual communication and claim that bidirectionality is not likely as the viewer makes the automatic assumption that "the starting point or target of comparison is the product itself". (Messaris, 1997, p.194) Advertisers believe that they only effect attitudes about the product. In their theoretical framework, association of the product with images of success, family, friendship, love, and neighborhood do not effect these concepts. Educators could do much to determine how visual analogies are understood in comparison with textual metaphors. How are attitudes effected in these common visual analogies?

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