Understanding the Effects of the Viewing Medium on Our Comprehension of Images


This paper represents part of a broader qualitative study examining the change in our comprehension of the two-dimensional photographic image due to the shift from traditional forms of printed communication and information dissemination to digitally-based information exchange and communication systems, devices and applications. Exposure to digitally networked technologies is reconfiguring our brain, resulting in a change in how we access and process information. Digital technologies provide great affordance for the way people use, view and exchange images. The number of locative and temporal spaces where we encounter images has increased with images constantly moving through these spaces. We view digital images in many more situations than previously possible through traditional forms of print communication such as magazines or newspapers. These encounters are mediated through: the type of technology delivering the image; the context of communication; whether a blog or a corporate website; our viewing intent toward the image; for social contact or study; and the impact of stimuli present in our surroundings. The paper proposes a model for understanding and articulating these mediations to expand visual communication discourse beyond traditional semiotic analysis and incorporate our mental and physiological responses to images as influenced by technology. The P.E.M.I. (Physical, External, Medium, Image properties) Effects Compass has been developed from the research to provide a holistic overview of effects on image apprehension through four critical coordinates: viewing medium, the medium’s physical characteristics and external influences.


Thomas Marotta
Lecturer, School of Education and the Arts, Central Queensland University, New South Wales, Australia


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Digital Technology, People, Photographic Images, Visual Communication, Print, Mediation

Digital Media


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