Do you communicate through pictures? Cognitive Media, New Mediators and other examples


You probably know this video. I personally love it, its my favorite shower song. But beside the lyrics, what me fascinates about it, is that the pictures add so much more value to the song. What is it, that makes the combination of words and a visual representation so powerful?

Since the times our ancestors sat around fires starring at cave walls, humans were using visual representations of things, beings, and processes to augment the spoken word with illustrations. Cro-magnon-children got scared of wild beast glimpsing down in pale paint from dark stone. Even the best story tellers among the elders could not convey such strong emotions without these pictures. Through the ages depictions of bible scenes, propaganda drawings, and text book illustrations taught us faith, emotion, and concepts more effectively than text could have done alone. Movies, TV and multimedia added another dimension to visual presentations. Those technologies made communication backed with moving pictures even more effective. Imagine “An Inconvenient Truth” without Al Gore going off the chart or the weatherman without a map. No matter if you want to convince, teach, or entertain, you must not omit the visual channel into people’s minds.

Here is one example with all three qualities: its convincing, informative and funny:

Recently, I stumbled over two different approaches. Both utilize visualisation in an attempt to augment otherwise vocal information. One of the approaches is spread by the British company cognitive media. They earned most of their you-tube-fame through adding a visual representation to pre-recorded speakers on Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts (RSA) conferences (see an example below). The other approach was invented by a group called New Mediators, most famous for explaining the credit crisis in a splendid lecture (see even more below).

Both approaches use distinctive visual languages, but use them in completely different ways. Cognitive media creates a visual representation of words that were designed to be spoken alone. Both audio and video are different representations of the same content. Yet together stronger than the audio alone. Both representation can also stand for them alone. Although, it is hard to understand it when you watch it without sound (you should try it).

New Mediators combine pictures with spoken explanations into a coherent piece of content. Pictures and text are almost meaningless when separated. The vocals support the pictures and the pictures support the vocals. The artist uses both channels to transport his message.

The surprising truth about what drives us (Cognitive Media)

The Crisis of Credit Visualized (New Mediators)

Both approaches use a distinctive style. The result are two coherent visual languages. New Mediators even tries to put its language (build from icons) into an alphabet (of icons) that should allow others to use this languages. Theoretically, you should be able to use those languages, recreating the impact the those example videos on your own content. But besides all efforts and availability of tools like flash, dream weaver, after effects and co, creating such pieces of arts is complex and time consuming. Since everyone sees this fact right away, those videos are not only convincing, educating and entertaining but also extremely impressive.

If you know any other videos down that line, please feel free to share them.

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