Hidden in plain sight - engaging in the visual construction of European identities and narratives through ancient European script

LEVICK-PARKIN, Melanie (2016). Hidden in plain sight - engaging in the visual construction of European identities and narratives through ancient European script. In: Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders, Athens, 23 - 25 September 2016.

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The aim of this project was to enable visual communication designers and young European citizens to reflect on how societal narrative and meaning can be communicated via a shared visual literacy, by exploring signs, symbols and semiotics inherent in our ancient shared European heritage of the Linear A and Linear B scripts. The reason for using the ancient scripts was the premise that they would act as a ‘neutral’ but relevant visual and semantic content basis from which to explore visual and written meaning making in contemporary society. Archaeology can grant us access to our history by allowing us encounters with remnants of the past. How these remnants are translated for us, read by us and what we believe that they tell us, is intimately tied up with the context of our own contemporary culture. This makes any interaction with history also a potential interaction with the present and future. Any ‘reading’ of the past, is also a reflection of our presence (Gamble 2001)(Gere 2009) (Hayden1993). Archaeological research into the scripts from a semiotic perspective and into Linear B’s administrative function is particularly relevant to this research, because it highlights potential points of similarity with contemporary conceptions of citizenship. Linear B in particular offers clues to social, political and economic structures of the pre-historic society, and includes ideograms for slaves, religious offerings, domestic animals and commodities amongst many others (Chadwick 1987). The aim was to use these elements to provide a starting point for reflection on contemporary European societal narratives. How visual discourses of European identities are constructed is rarely discussed even in Design Schools. How can we ever develop a (multi)-cultural sense of belonging and a notion of European citizenship, when the majority of political and media generated messages we receive accentuate our differences and bemoan our co-dependency? International branding has made us very competent in receiving messages communicated through visuals, but if the messages and their intended meaning have not been reflected upon and critically analysed, we may not be conscious of how, and to what ends, our emotions and behaviors are being influenced (Ollins 2003). Whilst we may be seemingly united in the consumption of international brands, identifying and understanding their brand values without much effort or inhibition by our individual and diverse, cultural backgrounds (Klein 2003), it is often the sub-conscious nature of how visual language is ‘read’ that can also make it less likely to be critically analysed and reflected upon (Crow 2003). If visual literacy can be successful exploited for uniting disparate cultural groups for commercial purposes, then visual communication design should, in principle, also be able to facilitate the co-creation of visual language that can help us to explore, understand and propose values of European citizenship that transcend local political and media manipulation (Kress 2010). The aim is to involve young people in discussions about how aspects of historical visual literacy can be critically examined and re-designed in the context of contemporary forms of communication and reflections on citizenship and European identities.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Abstract published in Book of Abstracts. ISBN no.: 9780997997101
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Science, Technology and Arts > Department of Art and Design
Depositing User: Melanie Levick-Parkin
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 10:36
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 16:30
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13802

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