Deliverable 2.7 - Survey on an understanding of cultural context of interpretation of images

Most knowledge about the world has its source in cultural transmission. Cultures considered both synchronically and diachronically are different and unique: each creates its own world. Cultural activity and culture created on this basis is different now, in the time of pandemics, than it was before. However, technology is providing the opportunity to learn how people are experiencing pandemics in various places worldwide. 

In the TICASS project we were asking a series of questions about visual communicants in public spaces of urban settings in Europe and in Kenya. We were registering them, discussing them, searching for common meanings and their interpretations, getting to know the world in which we live better. 

Cultural evolution of the human is in passing individual experiences from one generation to the following. We are learning about the world, we are changing it, and information about these activities and their effects we pass on further. This state has reason in the fact that the reality we learn about and we deal with is made to measure – it is our world and not the world-in-itself (Kałaszyńska E., Wiedza i informacja [in:] Heler M., Mączka J.,(red.) Informacja a rozumienie, Wydawnictwo Diecezji Tarnowskiej Biblos, Tarnów, 2005, s.124-125).  

For the duration of the TICASS project, spaces of chosen cities were “made to measure,” as places of existence of the persons participating in the project. Learning about these spaces and experiencing them was based to a large extent on visual communicants present in these spaces. These communicants were supplemented by verbal communication from the people living in these cities. These were adults, youths, and children, and each of them experiences reality through cultural and age stratification. Attempting to grasp the multitude of diversity and similarities, we asked about the same phenomena – visual communicants present in the public spaces of cities. 

Therefore, the research, first planned as just a survey, grew to a broad investigation. First, we collected visual communicants in chosen types (categories) of public spaces in working groups and described them in cards in accordance with the basis of communication theory by H. D. Lasswell. Then, we interpreted them in Paul Martin Lester’s perspectives of analysis of visual communicants. We also showed a set of images from urban public spaces in all the countries involved in the project to focus groups of children, youths, students, and adults. After a trial with a survey, we decided to change the methodology of investigation from quantitative to qualitative research (in accordance with the Project Officer) and so also conducted interviews with focus groups of children, youths, students, and adults, asking them questions on their understanding of, and emotional responses to, the sets of images taken in different countries. The casual interview style was aimed at provoking various spontaneous, expressive, and emotional responses; it also elicited interaction in groups, which sometimes led to chaotic tranions of the interviews. Analysis and interpretation required deep consideration by experts and resulted in cognitively interesting generalizing theorems, as well as allowed solutions to emerge directed both to practice and to theory of visual communication.