I remember the first time I heard about visual pollution. It was a big issue in my mind at that time, nevertheless, I was not be able to coin a name to it! In Introduction to Visual Communication Design Course mentoring by Professor Fehim Hadzimuhamedovic.. That time I decided not to be a graphic designer.. I became aware that I am not equipped with good skills and talent of visual communication. What was the reason to make image for mass communication? Is it to pollute more?
Anyway, a text below I prepared for this course.. Special thanks and Best Regards to Mr. Hadzimuhamedovic, it was an honour to meet him..
The general description of “Visual Pollution” corresponds to eyesore and human made visual parameters or products which a spectator does not recognize the message and the content easily; yet, this work is to draw an individual interpretation of visual pollution. It is almost possible to say that visual pollution is both an aesthetic and an environmental issue facing with indispensible reading of cultural and communicational channels. The only entity which can add layers to culture and nature consciously is mankind, due to having pleasure (aesthetic modality), and mind. That is why human burdened the charge of vicegerency of The Creator on the globe (See Islamic exegesis of creation of human). It would be harsh to consider the human as a visual pollutant; of course there are some exceptions.
The image itself, the decoder, the encoder and the context (In Time-Place Diagram) are the elements of visual reading, so, any visual element supporting visual communication cannot be considered as pollutant. The reader should directly see and get the message through this channel. In modern era, especially after the second wave as rise of printing technology and third wave as the rise of digital era, readers are being bombarded by visual elements by mass media device, so they get accustomed to extract the message from all other messages. On the other hand, the difficulty to get the message in peace still stands against the reader because of rapid production, easy of exhibit, and reproduction of visual elements. Visual clutter such as billboards, cell towers, even ugly buildings, is in the eye of the beholder; it is subjective. To a businessman, a well-placed billboard may count as of beauty, but to the traveler whose view of the rolling hills or the rustic village is obstructed, it is visual pollution.
The daily lifestyle of human being is changing and visual reading is also affected impressively. One of the most important changes is the artificial illumination of night time. Visual reading is generally based on light: the essence of seeing action. The man can read after sunset, so more images can be decoded to encode that period of day. Nevertheless, someone standing on the top of the highest building in the urban on a clear night would see only one per cent of what Galileo would have been able to see in the night sky with the naked eye. So the human interpretation of knowledge is particularly based on artificial (man-made) environment. As we mentioned above, this is the lifestyle of modern mankind, he is accustomed to extract the message of any visual element from the message bombardment.
In a conclusion, visual perception, in other words the way we see, reading or encodeing the message of the image is asubjective matter. If the message is readable for the spectator, it may not be considered as visual pollutant. It is possible to say that aesthetics is not a comprehensive approach to visual pollution, because taste is educable. Museums, art galleries and similiar institutions can be considered as the education parameters of aesthetics. The problem of visual pollution is the readability and the legibility of the message, which must be derived from the image. Unfortunately, it seems to be impossible to refine visual pollution because of mass production of images.
Polluted Places and Areas as Specimen
All the billboards here are designed to be read by the target group. However, it is almost possible to extract one message from the whole. On the other hand, the shortage of place to convey all the messages is an economical issue. In economics case, all the messages hidden under these visual elements are in congestion and there is a need to read each message separately. The solution to this problem lies under simplification. Simplification includes refinement and election of the message. Because if you want to wear dresses, the brand represented with a billboard with a naked woman, you should not go to Fast-food Restaurants, fast food contains fat, etc.. The reader is under dilemma while reading these two messages together. Also, the reader, as decoder of the message is built a wall between the message and himself, because he does not feel secure and comfortable. It becomes a disaster for a colorblind guy, such as myself..
In this image, the old encodings are still on the board which the message should be written. That situation diminishes the easiness of the communication channels. Which image should be seen first? Which one is valid? Even the photographer isolated some other images out of the frame, is not it too much to read on this small bell buttons? Hereby, if the invalid images are still on sight, the valid ones lose their readability and they are not distinguished anymore. The solution is to delete, to erase or to store (in somewhere else) these images and give the priority of the valid ones.
I took this photo in Sarajevo, Vratnik. A rapid change by war happened in all country. May God bless the victims and martyrs of this bloody war..PS: I did not publish quatations and footnotes of this writing..