Art in theory: What is visual language?

Course Dates: 27/02/20 - 02/04/20
Time: 17:30 - 19:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Esmeralda Valencia-Lindström

This critical studies course for artists and makers explores theories and methods of analysing and interpreting works of art and visual culture, and provides you with useful critical tools to help you think about your own visual language and creative communication.


What is the course about?

This course explores communication and interpretation as key skills for developing and established artists, designers and makers, and supports you in developing skills and knowledge to see, analyse and interpret your own work and the work of others.

Through reading, exploring, discussing and applying ideas and theories including semiotics, communication and reception theory, the course will help you in interpreting art and design, as well as help you in enhancing your own work's ability to communicate your ideas and concepts.

What will we cover?

Through artistic and theoretical presentations, set readings, discussion and debate, as well as creative and analytical activities, this course will explore a wide range of themes from communication studies, semiotics, reception theory, art theory, philosophy and science to develop skills in interpreting visual imagery and art works, and enhance your ability to experiment and visually communicate through your own creative work. We will explore the visual world as a language, and develop skills in semiotic analysis to decode specific examples of visual culture.

This course explores contemporary practices and debates and as such you can expect to be stimulated and challenged by some of the ideas and images discussed.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Read and discuss a range of critical and theoretical ideas and texts with greater confidence
- Analyse creative practices using theories and methods from semiotics and communication theories
- Draw on critical and theoretical ideas and texts to enhance your own creative and artistic practice
- Develop and present your own critical and creative thinking through discussion, debate and group crits.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course aimed at an intermediate and advanced level, and is ideal for art, design, craft, creative writing, and performing arts students as well as established practitioners, and those working in the creative sectors such as art teachers, curators or arts professionals. Ideally, you will have experience in one of these areas, or be actively involved in developing creative work through study or independently, and have a desire to extend the theoretical and critical basis of your work. The course is ideal for supporting study on City Lit courses such as the Contemporary practice: personal project, the City Lit Fine art course, Developing art practice or any equivalent creative art or design courses. The course may also be of interest to those who have completed a degree in an arts subject and wish to continue their critical exploration of ideas and theory.
You will need a good handling of written and spoken English necessary to engage with set readings and for participation in paired and group discussion, as well as produce and present basic written or creative exercises. Some experience in reading theoretical texts about art and culture would be beneficial, but a willingness to read and engage with theory and build your skills is essential. An explanation of your existing experience can be provided through completing the questionnaire in the sidebar, however if you have any questions about the course or the enrolment requirements please do not hesitate to contact
A basic ability in using the internet is required to access online reading materials provided by the course, although a demonstration and guidance on how to access the materials from City Lit's Virtual Learning Environment will be provided at the start of the course.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught through a mixture of illustrated talks by practising artists and/or theorists, paired and group discussions, debates and presentations, supported by theoretical readings and visual analysis exercises. Students will be expected to be developing their creative work outside of classes, and support their study through independent theoretical readings, gallery visits, and some short preparatory tasks.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You are encouraged to bring a notebook and pen to record notes from talks and discussions. You may wish to buy some of the books or journals on any reading list given out in class. You will also need access to a computer, and will be expected to access or download readings from the City Lit virtual learning environment in preparation for classes. Each class we will invite you to bring in examples or images related to the themes explored to invigorate and personalise discussions.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may be interested in other critical thinking courses, or subjects from our Art history and humanities programme areas.

Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: VB648

Thu, eve, 27 Feb - 02 Apr '20

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Full fee: £149.00
Senior fee: £149.00
Concession: £91.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.