This post is in the Presentation category

The presentation method – non-linear, active web-based, multi-media – is intrinsic to the research methodology. It is both an innovative mode of presentation and an innovative mode of data analysis. The workings of the links and relationship building are covered elsewhere so in this context it is relevant to speak of the use of images, colours, music and other “un-words” within the document.  Un-word is a convenient neologism.  Words, ordinary words sometimes fail to express what is required, and other modes must prevail. A link is an un-word, as is a picture, a colour, a change of font, a sound, a piece of music, a video.  Even a previously non-existant word created for the moment is an un-word.

I do not claim to be an expert in visual communications – I am exploring this matter from my own perspective, however as I began the work of researching, and more obviously, presenting the work in progress to various forums, I found myself questioning the relationship between words and “un-words” to communicate my ideas. I participated in a number of presentations as an audience and conducted quite a few myself and I found that mine were full of very different types of un-words – particularly photographic and designed images. Eventually this led to an exploration of the topic through a public presentation to the Conservatorium’s research colloquium. Surely if a “picture tells a thousand words” we must be cognisant of who’s thousand words they are.

There seems to be four main reasons to use such un-words alongside text, to


Adornment is perhaps the easiest to define.  An image to direct attention – perhaps towards or away from the text – perhaps simply to make a slide or a page look pretty.  They are images without information or meaning.  I have tried to avoid them in this document, but one could argue that choices made in colour, font and layout have aesthetic adornment qualities beyond the utilitarian considerations of readability.

Clarification is the most common form of image use in academic writing. Examples of this include diagrams, charts and annotated photographs. They are largely used to convey facts and information, they are denotive, imitative and code-less (Barthes & Heath, 1988, p. 19). I have used a number of these in various contexts.

Amygdala connections © C.Webber 2010
“Amygdala connections”
IRI tests © C.Webber 2010
IRI tests
The Brain © C.Webber 2010
“The Brain”

Representation is somewhat different, as it is clearly coded, an image with meaning beyond simple information that conveys a more abstract meaning. If clarification is about facts, the representation and evocation is about art-i-facts.  They are more than facts, facts with art, facts with meaning, facts with baggage.  A photograph can be this, but perhaps more often a created or manipulated image. Such an art-i-fact is the attempt by the author to convey a meaning directly or to help place the reader into the situation being described, therefore drawing on their empathic, perspective taking responses.

Mary - interview

Mary - interview

Sound Plotting from Zen Zen Zo SubCon Warrior 2.0 © Morgan Roberts 2009

Sound Plotting

"Singers" © C Webber 2006


Lastly then is the use of image to evoke. Muncey   (2005) discusses the use of “snapshots” and “artefacts” within her work to convey meaning within the receiver beyond the literal content of the images from her life. She does, however employ text as a descriptive adjunct, defining the symbolism of dress, of gaze and of composition. Her writing makes it clear that such images are mnemonic devices, stimulating emotive recall in herself and allowing her to guide the reader to the correct evocation. She “loads” the image, “burdening it with a culture” (Barthes & Heath, 1988, p. 26) that binds the reception of the image to the idea.

A more connotative mode of evocation is also possible through the use of “art photography”. In essence, the use of such images without a textual exploration allows for the “having-been-there” (Barthes & Heath, 1988, p. 41) of my own mnemonic evocation to do its magic within me in the hope that it will transmit in some way to the reader for their own connotation “Connotation is not necessarily immediately graspable at the level of the message itself (it is, one could say, at once invisible and active, clear and implicit)” (Barthes & Heath, 1988, p. 21). These images are a part of my own process, which I choose to make available to to you.


The Ring from Zeitgeist  Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre  © Morgan Roberts 2009

"The Ring"


The colours of the page backgrounds have also been chosen for connotative reasons. The black on white format of the analytic posts is, I suspect fairly universally reflective of a serious piece of writing. It is conservative, formal, traditional, emphasising clarity and weight. On the other hand, the dark background of the “evocative” pages is a conscious attempt to reflect the heart, the inner self. The text is a “light in the unexplored”. In both cases the literal of black vs white, mind vs heart is subverted by slightly toned colours – the aesthetic and utilitarian remains a consideration.

Un-words are different ways to present information, ideas and insights in an academic context.  The website presentation format allows them to speak.

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