This website, which contains the material of the course VA312, taught at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey; attempts to walk you through the long and diverse history of a particular aspect of human endeavour: The translation of ideas, stories and concepts that are largely textual and/or word based into a visual format, i.e. visual communication. Wikipedia defines visual communication as:

Visual communication is the communication of ideas through the visual display of information. Primarily associated with two dimensional images, it includes: art, signs, photography, typography, drawing fundamentals, colour and electronic resources. Recent research in the field has focused on web design and graphically oriented usability. It is part of what a graphic designer does to communicate visually with the audience.

The primary tool by which man has visualised ideas is through the usage of writing and, by extension, type: Writing/type is the visual manifestation of the spoken word. And words are what we communicate with. Thus it is no overstatement when we say that type is the essence of visual communication and by extension of visual communication design. Type, where it is present, is simply the single most important element that you put on a page, since it inherently carries the essence of communication and communication is what our subject of study as graphic/multimedia designers is all about. Thus, the history of visual communication, i.e. the history of the visualisation of the spoken word, will largely follow the development of typographic systems, with a special focus on the Latin typographic system, given that this is the one that we are operating under. Although the primary focus will be on typographic elements and methodologies, the course will, of course, also cover pictorial aspects of visual communication, such as illustration, illumination, photography, shapes, colour etc as and where they pertain to the essence of the subject.

I shall loosely be following P.B. Megg's book "The History of Graphic Design", which is the seminal work of this area. Given that the internet presents me with this possibility I shall be providing far more visual examples to the material covered than the book itself provides. Thus the following pages are full of clickable thumbnails which will lead you to large sized images clarifiying the subjects at hand. The in-class presentations which give plenty of additional images and information - especially where the contextualisation of subject matter is concerned, are all to be found at the "downloads" link. Additionally there will soon be a downloadable walkable 3D VRML environment that covers highlights of the course for quick recapture and also, hopefully, for fun.

I am very proud of my heritage as a graphic designer. I know that I come from a long line of remarkable individuals from the scribes of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to the medieval book makers, from the likes of Aldus Manutius to the constructivist El Lisitzky. They are my friends and colleagues. I look to them for instruction, for guidance, for inspiration. I know that whatever we design today rests upon their shoulders, their genius, their unfailing good judgement and taste. I look at contemporary design and see traces of gothic diminuendo or Renaisance page layout. I hope that learning the history of their craft will inspire the same pride and love in my students...