Date Jan 23 2013
A Discussion of Visual Culture Theory. All three writers agree that the basic premise of visual culture theory is that there is a need to create a multi-disciplinary approach to education at large and art history in specific. Tavin makes the case that art history can benefit greatly from cultural studies (Tavin, 199) and (eventually by page 209) has listed some thirty disciplines that he argues should be incorporated into the sphere of visual culture. In contrast Julie C. Van Camp in her critical look at the visual culture movement, seems to warn of the rise of a potential new dogma (Van Camp, 34). "Still further, the term "interdisciplinary" can simply suggest ways of expanding our methodologies in a variety of disciplines without staking a claim that only particular notions of interdisciplinary are acceptable" (Van Camp, 34). She seems to warn of throwing out the baby with the bath water, suggests that we should be slow to throw all of our ideas out in favor of the new Zeitgeist. Van Camps endorsement of visual culture theory comes in the form of a question, "Can our understanding of visual culture be used to enhance our understanding of what we traditionally termed or deemed as art?" (Van Camp, 34). Tavin seems to burn with the fire of a zealot lighting a torch to the whole art academy and Eisner rests somewhere between Van Camp and Tavin, when he simply states, "Justification improves overall performance," (Eisner, 7). Pluralism pushes in one direction and standardized testing in another a pendulum swing that leaves art educators grasping. Perhaps the strongest points that all agree on are the following; art history is no island, visual experiences are profound and far reaching, the everyday in the classroom breaks down the barrier of high art. Art history and therefore art education is no island. In short trans-disciplinary approaches inspired by visual culture theory, can only help to bring context and a sociological component into the art classroom.