Saturday, 19 October 2013

Study Task 1: Communication Theory


Using Shannon and Weaver's model of the communication process, analyse one piece of visual communication.

Make sure you refer to the associated concepts of channel capacity, noise, redundancy and entropy and try to cover questions such as-

What are the main communicative functions of redundancy?
What are the ways in which convention can be said to facilitate understanding?
How does your chosen piece of visual communication that breaks or extend specific conventions?
How does this effect the desire to communicate or the intended audience?

This is advertisement focusing on child abuse. This advert uses a unique tactic in order to benefit its main target audience - victims of child abuse. From the adult perspective, this advert appears to be just like any other child abuse poster. However, it has been specifically designed to reveal more information when looking at it from a child (average aged 10) view point. This is a subtle and intelligent way to reach out to young children who feel afraid to contact organisations such as Childline.

In terms of the Shannon-Weaver model, this advert follows a clear set of communication stages. The information source is to help victims of child abuse. The advertisement is clear, bold and easy to understand for the whole general public. The encoding process would have involved generating the idea to focus the advertisement into two separate messages: one to adults; Parents, family members, friends of family who may be suspicious of child abuse cases. The second message being directed straight towards the children themselves. The encoding solution in this case was to focus on two different view points for two separate messages. 

The channel process is how this advertisement is viewed depending on whether they are a child or adult. As outlined in the Shannon-Weaver model, there is always a various amount of noise surrounding each communicative stage. During the channeling stage of this process, the noise would be the effectiveness of the messages working separately. The advertisement effectively channels the design in two separate directions from this point onwards.

Once the message has been received from both target audience, there are two separate messages to decode. For the adults audience, this poster would probably not stand out from the others. The crucial aim from the channeling process is the hope that children will feel more confident about calling the helpline or discovering more information. If the advertisement has been successful, more children would, in theory, act on this and seek help. 

The 'destination' of this idea would be the evidence of change or impact from the production and use of the advertisement. If more children were calling the number, the design has been a success. Either way, the process will start again, forming new ideas at the 'Information source'. This example, and many others suggest that 'noise' is not always a problem. It can also be seen as a solution if it has been intended for a specific connotation or concept. 

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