The emerging field of visual culture poses rough terrain for beginners with its nuanced distinctions and reliance on postmodern theory. Not until An Introduction to Visual Culture has any book attempted to present a comprehensive and accessible approach to this exciting new subject.
Nicholas Mirzoeff begins by defining what visual culture is, and explores how and why visual media--fine art, cinema, the Internet, advertising, performance, photography, television--have become so central to contemporary everyday life. He argues that the visual is replacing the linguistic as our primary means of communicating with each other and of understanding our postmodern world, demonstrating this through powerful examples, from Diana's funeral to the Latina singer Selena, and from the X-Files to Independence Day.
Mirzoeff then examines the importance of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and the body in visual culture. These various forms of social discourse provide essential tools for reading images and thus define the study of visual culture as an inherently political project. Mirzoeff tackles the difficult subject of the gaze and the "other" and offers the reader a clear synthesis of these concepts.
Lively and provocative, An Introduction to Visual Culture offers an accessible entry to this new way of understanding images.