My main research centered around visual literacy, with a strong focus on visual literacy and digital photographs. Contrary to what some teachers think (and what some educational researchers espouse rather viciously) text and images do indeed exist in isolation. One need only pick up a classic novel to realize there are no images in them or one could venture to many art galleries to see how some artists use few if any words to describe their work.
Examples of artists who use few if any words, in their projects are the Starn Brothers, Binh Danh, and Matt Siber. Of these three Matt Siber's fantastic work called "The Untitled Project" affirms many of my thoughts. I appreciate what Matt Siber states of his work: "In doing this, it serves to point out the growing number of ways in which public voices communicate without using traditional forms of written language." This is exactly why teachers and researchers need to move beyond the image/text approach to visual literacy. I'm not saying they need to abandon the image/text approach, just move beyond this one track duality that's seen as the sangreal in some educational circles.
Both approaches must be considered when teaching and researching visual literacy in the digital age. By this I mean text with images in conjunction/disunison and text and images in isolation. It better reflects reality and gives students a better understanding of the visual culture they are to inherit. One thing I would caution when it comes to visual literacy in the digital age is to avoid calling visual literacy a universal language; that is a bit shallow and disregards artistic conventions/traditions of other cultures. You need only look at Pieter Hugo's work to see how the visual can be more cultural than universal. I still don't understand many of the underlying themes and motifs in his work. Another word of caution is to never call someone "visually illiterate" (as Billie Eilam has done in her seminal work); this is where I disagree with the term "literacy" and would prefer as a culture we use the term "fluency". That, however, is another can of worms/battle/debate that I'll leave alone for now.
When it comes to visual literacy I tend to side with Avgerinou and Pettersson who stress that a working definition of visual literacy is a work in progress. I also agree with their approach to seeing (no pun intended) the common threads and words used by varying fields that stake a claim on defining visual literacy. It means a theory and more holistic definition may soon be possible!
Without further ado below are samples of my projects and some research I did during graduate school:
Sample Projects from Grad School (UBC MET)