Preface & Summary

 

From image language to creation of image-words

 

I presented my doctoral dissertation in the United States in 1991. The "story animation" series - "Once Upon a Time - Life" ("La Vie") was broadcast in that period and was very popular the worldwide. The supervisors in charge of science instruction in Israel with the Ministry of Education, were concerned that the TV broadcast of the series might cause fundamental and considerable misconception of various concepts among children watching the series on TV

 

.In those days there was only one TV channel in Israel, where the Educational Television programs were broadcast from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and during school holidays. As the Educational Television's science coordinator at that time, I recognized the need to produce an accurate Hebrew soundtrack and I insisted on preciseness. I also decided to test the assumption according to which, watching the series might cause damage to the students. I met the producer Albert Barillé in Paris (the series was produced in French, English and Spanish) and he authorized me to conduct an autonomous and independent research concerning the effect of the series on students. My research has shown that unguided viewing of episodes of the "Once Upon a Time - Life" animated series provided the children with knowledge about the biological themes and concepts viewed and increased their learning motivation. It was found that the misconceptions noticed were negligible. The study was carried out with a large sample of students, both from state and professional high schools

 

.Lately, there have been re-broadcasts of the "Once Upon a Time - Life" series and according to advertisements I've seen around these days, the series is now available on DVD as well.

 

Twenty years ago, during my research, I examined the TV language and my work was widely acknowledged as innovative across the international scientific community of those engaged in the field of literacy and visual thinking. The association which I have been active in for a decade and which I'm still part of today is called the International Visual Literacy Association - IVLA. Its members gather every year to present new researches and to discuss them and thereafter, a refereed collection of papers presented at the annual conference is published. The association also has a website and a newsletter. The group's journal: JVL - Journal of Visual Literacy is published about 4 times a year.

 

I was sent to the first conference as a research student on behalf of the HebrewUniversity in Jerusalem. I continued to attend subsequent conferences, with the aid of my continuing education fund. Afterwards, I traveled to the United States on my own every year for a decade and every year I would appear with a new essay. Throughout the years I was selected as member of the committee and as chairwoman of the organization's international committee and lately I have even served as a member of the JVL editorial staff.

 

During that period I published the papers cited herein. According to practice, among all the papers presented at any annual conference, a refereed collection of papers is published thereafter. Furthermore, a proposal has to be submitted with the committee ahead of time, consisting of a one page long synopsis of the relevant research and presentation of the research at the annual conference is conditional upon the approval of the committee.

 

The conferences I attended in the United States, Greece, Sweden and the Netherlands were like a magical world for me. I've got acquainted with fellow researchers from the world over. Most of the conferences took place in the US, where many research students arrive from all continents and some of them stay with American universities for long periods of time.

 

In addition I was associated with further two academic organizations: IFUW - International Federation of University Women, which also holds international conferences once every three years and has a website; and the organization of science teachers, which also operates within an international framework. Science teachers maintain reciprocal connections; they are connected with all the entities engaged in the development of science teaching, have a variety of periodical publications, hold international conferences and strive for the improvement of science teaching in any possible way

 

.To IVLA I contributed my views and ideas in the field of science teaching, as well as a feminist eco, and at the science teaching conferences I offered my thoughts derived from acknowledged theories in literature in relation to the perception of concepts.

 

The essays included herein demonstrate, in their own way, the development of my metaphoric thinking. I consider this to be, in addition to the gathering of the essays themselves, an added value and this is one of the reasons which had led me to publish this collection.

 

The first essay describes the research I performed in pursuit of my academic degree and it examined viewing of animation programs as opposed to viewing of documentary programs dealing with identical concepts related to the human body and the findings are described therein.

 

The second essay, a more theoretical one, based on the research I carried on for my thesis, concerns the perception of concepts through visual thinking.

 

The third essay was written for the purpose of clarifying the terms hypermedia and multimedia, which were new terms in 1994. It was based upon the experience we had accumulated in Israel with the use of multimedia systems in learning processes. The lecture roused much interest due to the example I gave in order to explain the above said terms that emerged following innovative developments in audio-visual and other technologies and that were used in those days in the field of scientific education in Israel. Since I had the privilege of taking part in the preparation and spreading of the program of study of the human body in elementary schools, a program which made use of a built-in multimedia system, I was able to tell my colleagues about this system.

 

In 1995 and 1996 I published essays concerned with the innovations in teaching of sciences in that period, including the affinity to visual thinking for the purpose of concept formation in the process of individual thinking mechanism.

 

It was in that period that the Project 2000+ was born in science teaching, which consisted of a thinking, declaration and action process for "Science and Technology - Knowledge for All". This educational policy emerged from the UNESCOCenter in Paris. I participated in UNESCO conferences on science teaching that took place in Paris and in Jerusalem and I learned about the truth in reality, on site, through meetings I had with African representatives in a women's conference in Geneva and also during a private visit in Kenya and Tanzania.

 

The gap between the stated policy and the situation in reality can be expressed in terms of magnitude known to us from the field of cosmology, such as light years. I still don't understand even today how could Third World children benefit from such programs, when the means needed for their implementation are absolutely insufficient.

 

Another essay published in 1996 following an independent research I performed, is called "The image-language of science" it summarizes my attitude towards teaching of scientific concepts through visual thinking.

 

I would like to point out that my doctorate, as well as all the other researches that I performed and the travels I made were all carried out on a voluntary basis and at my own expenses. This allowed me to carry out independent and objective research, and publishing of the contents and personal growth which were not inhibited by competitiveness and resentment.

 

One of the most important events in my way, which has helped me develop a metamorphic way of thought was my first encounter with a prehistoric drawing. I remember this event very clearly. After an academic conference in the United States, I visited the beautiful BryceCanyon. It had just stopped raining and the rocks were clean and shiny. Suddenly, a primitive drawing on one of the rocks caught my eyes. Actually, it was engraved and I had no previous knowledge or acquaintance whatsoever with primitive drawing and engraving. So I made a note to myself, took a picture of it, asked about the meaning of it and so a whole world of this magical form of art was revealed to me. My curiosity and further research are derived from tools I have acquired in visual literacy. It is possible that someone who does not own these tools, would not have observed the signs on the rock at all.

 

The fact that a whole culture, the American-Indian culture had used drawings on rocks as a communication and documentation language, has influenced my independent research from that point onwards.

 

Since I travel a lot, I had the opportunity to visit numerous rock art sites with stone drawings and engravings all over the world. I also found that the aborigines in Australia and the Māori in New Zealand, as well as other ancient cultures in Asia, Europe and Africa used such drawings as a means of communication and transfer of messages to generations to come and that the earth is actually like a library with endless documentation carried out by primitive people in image language, patiently waiting for researchers and artists to be discovered.

 

During the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 I read and studied about learning and thinking of children by means of images and I have presented my findings in essays published in 1996 and 1997. In 1997 I studied, through my very young grandchildren, the formation of concepts and in particular of scientific concepts vis-à-vis artistic expressions. This study has directed me to the conclusion that there is a clear distinction between artistic and scientific thinking. My older grandson, Sagi, who was 4 at that time, told me his first story: "A boy who lived on a cloud", cited in paper no.7. He also wanted to understand what clouds are and I explained it to him in the kitchen, by means of the very simple experiment using a pot containing boiling water and a cold cover used for condensation and creation of water drops.

 

In 1996 I published my first poetry book. Apparently, the process of dealing with images and image-language has brought me back to the metaphor and while writing my researches, I also wrote poetry.

 

The image-language, as well as the formation of the creative concept along with the scientific concept, has brought me back to artistic creativity - writing Hebrew literature and creating multimedia art. I would like to give an example. Sagi said in his story the word "birdfly", which is a combination of two words: bird and butterfly. Later on I wrote in my poem "Otherwise": "A dream catcher/as fish and butterfly birds/the best/to keep".

 

The process of reconnecting to my memories, my past, my personal world, is described in the paper I published in 1998, titled: "My parents' home - photos and words from the community album". I still find it hard to believe that my severe American colleagues had enabled me to publish this paper. I assume that it can be attributed to the accurate method of presentation using a complex software and a touch screen, which was also used for the presentation of the history of Rishon Le-Zion in the "Founders' Corner" in the local museum. Following my lecture on the subject in the United States yet prior to the publication of the paper, I received an opinion from the University of Pennsylvania, stating that the accurate exposure of such a tool is valuable, inasmuch as it allows its use by whoever is interested. Behind this paper lies the core of my personal story and how does the process of thinking in images allow to create a new reality for those undergoing visual experiences.

 

The Digital Family Album in the Rishon Le-Zion museum represents the settlement's history through the families of its founders. When the Pohachevski family, my late mother's family was in the process of memorization, Mrs. Tirza Green, who had lead this project and who is the daughter of Zrubavel Haviv, one of the founders of Rishon Le-Zion, approached me and asked me to produce pictures and data concerning the family of my mother, who passed away soon after my birth, and therefore I was the only one left who could describe her close family and relatives. My mother, Yona, was the granddaughter of the first woman Hebrew writer in Palestine, Nehama Pohachevski, who was the wife of the founder Michal Pohachevski, known as "Tree man". This is why my family is so important for the Rishon Le-Zion founders' corner. Grandfather Michal was the one who planted the palm trees which are still standing in the public garden in the center of Rishon Le-Zion. I assume that this journey into the old family albums would not have influenced me in such an intensive manner, have I not had been involved in image thinking.

 

Moreover, the documentation process also included a summarizing meeting which I took my father to (in his late eighties). My father sat in the founders' corner among the Pohachevski family vis-à-vis the picture of my mother Yona, with me between the two of them: my father, in reality and the huge picture of my mother on a large screen. On that occasion I read a few sections of my story titled: "Pictures from the family album". I remember preparing a special program for this event, which took place in 1997 and which was documented by me in the leaflet of The Association of the Friends of the Museum. In this academic paper I described the project and the process as the creation of a virtual home for me, since never before was I able to be under one roof with both my father and my mother.

 

In the paper I also presented my poem "Internet" which was published in my first poetry book "Facing The Web" (1996) which deals with reality, death and metaphor: "I to myself: the Metaphor is the only/thing to exist excluding reality,/or maybe the metaphor is the world outside death/whose inevitable existence is the fulfillment of life." This paper has an added value for the reader interested in the creative process and the way in which an artist is born and a piece of art is conceived.

 

Two papers, one from 1999 and the other from 2002 deal with women's creativity. Just as the Visual Literacy Association was my point of reference, my home and community in matter of understanding visual thinking and metaphor, so were the women's organizations and the environment in which my feminist literary way of expression has developed. Having established the Union of Creative Women of Israel (ICW), which has emerged from the branch "Creative women" which I had established within the framework of the Israel Association of University Women, I considered it appropriate, as a researcher, to document at least part of our group activities.

 

In an essay dated 1999 I report about a workshop which took place in "Beit Bialik", in which, while looking at the painting of Mother Theresa, made by our colleague and painter Varda Berger, we wrote poetry. Some sections of the poems, translated into English, have been cited in the essay. The research was presented in an international workshop which took place in Graz, Austria, and was conducted by myself. 25 women, representatives of various countries participated in this workshop, which took place within the framework of a meeting of the International Association of University Women, including approximately 3,000 women. All the participants of the workshop were given an anthology prepared by us, in our branch of creative women, with the poems that were written while looking at the painting of Mother Theresa, translated into English and a description of the process of their writing. Each of the workshop participants chose a poem and one of the Israeli poet women among those included in the anthology and each of them filled out a questionnaire concerning the poet that she had chosen. Upon my return to Israel I had a meeting with the poets, during which they were given feedbacks from the workshop, as well as the possibility to contact the workshop participants. This paper describes my study of the creation of a metaphor as a result of writing while looking at the picture.

 

In a paper from 2002 I dealt with the question whether creation is gender dependent. I have read many ideas about literature and gender, which I have not agreed with. I conducted a sample study among several writers (women), using the pictures on the covers of their books, for research purpose. The research was described in a paper presented in the US and in Sweden, along with the presentation of the pictures appearing on the covers of the relevant books

 

.The two last essays of this collection, presenting my perception of leading visual symbols in human thinking, refer to the Mandala* and the Spiral**.

 

The essay from 2000 about the Mandala describes my visit to Rujum El Hiri near the Syrian border, as part of my attempt to connect between the Mandala and the peace process in the Middle East (a convention of artists and spiritualists from all over the world, see details in the paper itself).

 

The paper about the Spiral summarizes my study of this archetypical symbol in theory. In various places in the world where I've been to, I saw "Spirals" in rock art and other artistic expressions. It focuses on findings in Australia and New Zealand, among the aborigines and the Māori people who use this important symbol in their culture.

 

This paper has not yet been published and I am citing it for the first time in this book.

One of the requirements of the editor/s with regard to the essay titled "The Spiral - a supreme symbol of communication on Earth", was to eliminate certain paragraphs related to the journey that I and my husband, Ami Silverstein had made in search of spiral patterns, which would have taken from the essay its authenticity. To the best of my understanding, there is an essential connection between the subject matter of the last paper dealing with the Spiral, and the fact that the editors' comments seemed to me absolutely irrelevant. It turns out that during my research, my journey and the writing of the papers, I have reached the focal point of myself, the central point of the Spiral, just like in my research presented in these two papers mentioned above - the core of the labyrinth. And I came out of it not feeling anymore the need to publish my paper in an inappropriate manner. My will to publish it in the same framework in which I have published previous papers, simply disappeared.

 

This is the reason why this essay, which had been kept secreted for almost seven years, is being published here for the first time.

 

However, there is another issue. As a result of the development of my ability to return to the metaphoric form of expression, which I have been using during my childhood and youth, I no longer feel the need to publish and lecture in a foreign language, nor to accumulate papers published on my name. It has become so obvious and natural for me to write in my mother tongue and in the genre that seems right for me in order to express the contents I wish to, whether if in a poem, a short story, an essay or a paper.

 

The reader or reviewer of this collection will probably observe that the papers are published in a strict form which is demanded by the academic establishment. This academic paper formula which is important for the promotion of science, is limiting the freedom of the writer.

 

As I have said at the beginning of this introduction, it seems to me that the research represented in the essays is the one that had paved my way towards writing literature in Hebrew words, in image language. My great grandmother, the writer Nehama Pohachevski used to call her stories "paintings" for a reason.

 

I hope this collection will serve writers and researchers interested in dealing with the fields of scientific thinking, visual literacy, visual thinking, metaphor and teaching of sciences. The essays show that instead of dealing with misconceptions among students, one should deal with correct concept formation which comes following the conception process. Furthermore, this collection of essays may also be of use to those engaged in writing and metaphor - by reviewing those essays which concern creation and visual thinking.

 

I am pointing this out, again, since I have no doubt that the process of writing of these essays had a huge influence on my becoming the writer that I am today. Image thinking has brought me back to artistic writing. Thanks to my literary expression capability, which had already been detected at a very early age but has been pushed aside during my professional training, teaching of sciences and professional work, I was able to perceive the strengthening process of thinking and metaphoric expression in my writing. This is also evident in the themes of my research and my papers. My doctorate thesis dealt with a comparison between programs presented by way of narrative animation and the same themes and concepts presented as a documentary program. This study, in essence, compares between various genres in TV language, the main component of which is the image: between the artistic genre - in animation and the scientific genre - in the documentary. As from the second essay and onwards the principal motto in the essays is the image language.

 

My papers were written in an era when many books and articles were published against the television and computer taking over education and life in general. The educators understood that the humanity tends to reacquire communication by means of images, after a period of use of writing, which is a linear language. The group of researchers I belong to predicted the intensity, complexity and sophistication of the development of computers and the Internet and has accompanied with studies the increasing use of telecommunication. We raise the banner of Marshall McLuhan, who said that "The Medium is the Message", understanding that image thinking is essential for understanding messages. We also know, of course, that there is no danger in the tools, but rather in the contents transmitted through them. The image allows us to understand things that are difficult, and often even impossible to obtain by means of linear writing, in which a character or a written word have no ability of demonstrating things, but only to give their significance. Every author should remember that only that metaphoric writing which allows the reader for image thinking, can create a process of understanding of the text by the reader and a connection between the latter and both the text and its author.

 

*Mandala - the Mandala is a type of circular pattern. The psychoanalyst sees in the Mandala a representation of the self and a means for attaining wholeness.

 

**Spiral - snail, spiral shell, is a curved line starting from a central point and departing away from it in a circular movement.