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Using Visual Language

Abstract: This case study describes a module that was given at Luton University as a core unit for 2nd year students from Oct 2001 to January 2002. The aim was to follow through a theoretical study programme concerned with the relation of image to language and to assess what could be learned through a practical component covering basic work in still photography and the sequencing of images. The theory, rather than restricting practical outcomes, stimulated an imaginative response among the students, who produced a range of original photographic works and stories in a way that might not have been possible without the reading and discussion of the set texts.      

As a core unit it catered for students following both practical and theory based modules. The practical assignments were therefore constructed so that they could be executed with a minimal technical knowledge, in some cases by using disposable still cameras. This report also describes how the module is being developed and rewritten on the bases of that 13 week teaching experience.

Author information: Author’s career spans 30 years in both education and production leading to his current teaching practice being centred round the problem of relating theory to practice in the context of technological change.    
Career in education: Over 17 years covered Secondary Teaching: Further Education/ Colleges of Art: Teacher Training: Lecturer, London Institute of Education: ran Ministry Secondment Courses in Screen Education: External Examiner Film and Media Studies for University of Bristol, University of Westminster  and University of Middlesex: Taught at the National Film School: Head of Education Department British Film Institute: Professor of Film and Television, Royal College of Art.

This was followed by 13 years working in the industry as a Producer/ Director making Drama Documentaries: Mark Gertler for the BBC and the Arts Council, ‘Views of the Holy Land’ for the European Community. Documentaries included ‘The Art Collection of Baron Thyssen’, ‘A Tale of Two Cities/Jubail and Yanbu’, ‘Bridge, to the Future’, a history of Islam for the Royal Commision of Saudi Arabia: other clients were Shell, Aramco, Transworld, NCSS, Help the Aged, J. Walter Thompson.

Date: September 2002

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