Visual Thinking/Visual Computing

Online Reading/Viewing

Art and Design
Computer Graphics and Visualization (CS)
Image Economy
Institutions and Courses
Vision Science
Visual Culture
Visual Literacy

Art and Design

  A Visual Literacy Exercise
This interactive exercise helps to illustrate what it means to be visually literate.

An example of bad web design
A site on ancient Egypt

Eagle cam
Tilly, a golden eagle, flies with a mini-cam attached as part of a bird flight study

Edward Tufte
Tufte is famous for his lush, widely referenced books on design:
[Tufte 2001] Edward R. Tufte. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. 2nd Edition, Graphics Press, ISBN: 0961392142.
[Tufte 1997] Edward R. Tufte. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Graphics Press, ISBN: 0961392126.
[Tufte 1990] Edward R. Tufte. Envisioning Information. Graphics Press, ISBN: 0961392118.

Origins of Writing
Who began writing? many theories, few answers

Points and Pixels: A Design Course by Casey Reas
Casey Reas is an important computer artist who creates interactive animated works. This is a course he taught on design for science majors. All exercises are described, with student examples.

Rasterbator Tiling Software
Software that enlarges an image to as much as 20 meters for tiled printing

Robert Horn's Home Page at Stanford
Website of Robert Horn, author of "Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century" Macrovu Press, ISBN: 189263709X.

The Five Skills of Drawing-And None of Them Have Anthing to Do with Drawing
Some interesting insights about the skills necessary to draw accurately, with exercises.

The Illusion of the Renaissance: Course Unit text and exercise
A clearly presented overview of perspective use in the Renaissance

Top Ten Advertising Icons of the Century
Advertising Age's review of the most prominent and effective advertising icons of the 20th century.

WebWorlds - UK Higher Education Showcase Websites
The HERO (Higher Education and Research Opportunities) website is the primary Internet portal for academic research and higher education in the UK The Webworlds page showcases cyperspace websites that have particular interest for education and/or research. Current features are: TeachGlobal, The Voice of the Shuttle, and Pages of Madness.


Color Research and Practice
A very good list of links to many areas of color research and practice

Color 3D Application
3D color gamut visualization tools

Color Matters
Useful and entertaining resources about color: "The concept of color can be approached from several disciplines: physiology, psychology, philosophy, and art. This web site provides some starting points for an exploration of color ."

Color Theory Applets
Albers-like matching, color spaces, and more.

Computer graphics applets. Navigate to color theory section (color mixing, color perception)

Handprint Water Color Site
A multi-disciplinary discussion for artists of color perception, color psychology, color theory, and color mixing. Annoying format but useful information.

Color Museum
Contains a comprehensive list of color models, discussions of color and culture, and a virtual color space.

Color Logic
An online book on color theory

Map Coloring
Prof. Cynthia A. Brewer's resource site: map design, color theory applications in cartography, hypothesis generation in visualization, choropleth classification for maps in series.

Resources related to the 3D Colorcube model of color: "Our purpose in creating this site is to make it the ultimate "edutainment" resource for learning about color and its three-dimensional nature. We hope to reach many students, teachers, color professionals and puzzle enthusiasts and have them discover the secrets of digital color."

Color in Computer Graphics Handout
Great PPT handout from lecture on color in Graphics course at UCSD. This webpage also has interesting, and surprising, links to other resources at the bottom of the page, e.g., Devices of Wonder (this has nothing to do with graphics, but it is too cool not to list...):

Color Lecture - Stanford University's Visualization Course
Pat Hanrahan and Maureen Stone's color lecture from a visualization point of view - powerpoint slides online.

Color in Information Display: Principles, Perception, and Models
Maureen Stone's SIGGRAPH course on digital color, available as PDF on online. Interesting use of gray scale slides to pop the color illustrations.

Why Should Engineers and Scientists Be Worried About Color?
Article by Bernice E. Rogowitz and Lloyd A. Treinish, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY. Lloyd Treinish is an applied mathematician at IBM Yorktown Research and his home page contains interesting visualization information and images, including an animated weather gif.

Computer Graphics and Visualization (CS)

  A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation
The history of computer graphics from a number of angles.

Digital Michelangelo Project
Stanford Digital Michelangelo Project using laser rangefinder technology, plus algorithms developed at Stanford for combining multiple range and color images, allow us to reliably and accurately digitize the external shape and surface characteristics.

Historical Computer Images
A gallery of early digital images, with explanations of their relevance to their times.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry - Explore Technology
Online activities - color and resolution applets

Software Detects the True Artist
Dartmouth College team develops authentication software to detect multiple painters in a work of art

West Nile Ready for Its Close-Up
Scientists use technology to visualize the West Nile virus in order to find ways to fight it.

Image Economy

  Visual Expert Human Factors: Color in Trademark & Tradedress Disputes
legal site: color in trademark and tradedress disputes

Institutions and Courses


A visual literacy course directed toward fifth graders and with an emphasis on photojournalism.

A visual literacy course directed toward fifth graders and with an emphasis on photojournalism.

Communication Theory & Criticism
A theory course from the University of Oregon that concentrates on traditional media.

Critical Media Literacy
An introduction to media literacy from Syracuse.

Digital Images and the "New" Visual Literacy
A well-designed introduction to the field of visual literacy.

Exploring Visual Language: a Framework
simplistic but good stuff. communications theory for Kindergarten

Images of Women in the Twentieth Century
Course in the images of women in the 20th century

Information Visualization and Aesthetics
A course on information theory from the Information School at the University of Washington.

Mills College Visual Thinking course
Psychology 134: Visual Thinking "designed to provide you with an understanding and appreciation of the many ways people use visual thinking, including suggestions for ways of using visual thinking in your own problem-solving"

Points and Pixels: A Design Course by Casey Reas
Casey Reas is an important computer artist who creates interactive animated works. This is a course he taught on design for science majors. All exercises are described, with student examples.

Reading the Visual course
Lots of good points and references and essay topics.

Visual Literacy: "Learning to See"
Another course, this one from Northern Illinois University.

Visual Perception 2: How the Mind Sees
A page with links to other sites relating to visual cognition.

Visual Rhetoric
Course on visual rhetoric with ties into cognition.

Pat Hanrahan's Stanford course. Highly recommended.


Institute for Multimedia Literacy
Annenberg's Institute for Multimedia Literacy.

USC Annenberg Center's Institute for Multimedia Literacy
research and development efforts designed to embrace the transformative potential of today's multimedia literacy

Visual Media Center
Columbia University's Visual Media Center.

Vision Science

  Color Psychology
A helpful explanation of color psychology.

Did you see the gorilla?
Experiments with surprising results about our ability to retain visual information in visual short-term memory

Important Dates in Vision Science
A timeline of all the important milestones in the evolution of vision science.

Louis Brassard
CV, including research interests and a link to his thesis "The Perception of the Image World "

Meta-Mental Models
More on mental models -- here, meta-mental models.

Michigan State Visual Cognition Laboratory
where do we look when we see? Gaze tracking and more at Michigan State Vis Cognition Lab

Sandlot Science (Optical Illusions)
More optical illusions.

Spatial Schemas in Depictions
Barbara Tversky of Stanford University conducts research into the nature of mental models.

UIUC Visual Cognition Lab
This page provides links to information about Professor Daniel Simons' experiments on visual awareness and the gorilla experiment

Vanishing Illusion (Optical Illusions)
Some optical illusions.

Visual Culture

  2004 Presidential Election Maps, Cartograms, and Analyses
See how statistical graphics can be highly misleading and politically incendiary. See Also Edward Tufte.

@LASCAUX Virtual Reality Art Installation
Benjamin Britton's Lascaux Virtual Reality Project

Angkor Wat restoration
Conservation and restoration of Angkor Wat using computer graphics techniques

Art dictionaries: ArtLex
Huge! definitions for more than 3,600 terms used in discussing art / visual culture, along with thousands of supporting images, pronunciation notes, great quotations and cross-references

Art dictionaries: Words of Art
Another art dictionary

Artcyclopedia: The Fine Art Search Engine
Great art online, from over 8,000 famous painters, sculptors and photographers, at art museum sites & image archives worldwide

Digital Evidence Raises Doubts
On the admissibility of digital evidence in courts.

Digital Philosophy
Ed Fredkin believes that everything can be modeled computationally, and I mean *everything*.

Florence Art Guide - The Baptistery Doors
"These doors took 27 years to complete (1425-1452), but the result was so outstanding (even Michelangelo said that they were "worthy of Paradise") Baudrillard, Jean, Simulations, Semiotext(e) 1983, "The Precession of Simulacra," pp. 1-80

Images Imperfect: The Legacy of Scientific Illustration
Interesting article about the pros and cons of scientific illustration.

Interesting Use of Cropping in an Advertisement
"In for Life" advertisement movie for a cleaning product

John F. Kennedy Assassination Game
Controversial 'docu-game' recreates the surroundings and events from November 23, 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated.

Media Effects Model - Critique
10 thing wrong with media effect model

Media Effects Model - Overview
Communication theory about influence of visual models

NPR Story on theMarlboro Man
NPR feature on how the famous advertising icon was created and evolved.

Project Renaissance: Visual Thinking Techniques
Methods for improving problem-solving abilities using Renaissance-era principles, many visually-based.

An archive of science and nature images.

Semiotics: A Primer for Designers
A helpful glossary of some of the terminology used in art semiotics.

Software Detects the True Artist
Dartmouth College team develops authentication software to detect multiple painters in a work of art

Statue of Saddam Hussein Destroyed
Showing "a few Iraquis" celebrating rather than the hoards that news photos made it seem like.

Structuralism and Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure (November 26, 1857 - February 22, 1913) Wikipedia entry:

The Analysis of Images - Words and Pictures
A nice, short writeup of image theory; from the Analysis of the Visual Image course at the University of Newcastle, Australia

The Credit Card Prank
"How crazy would I have to make my signature before someone would actually notice?" How crazy would I have to make my signature before someone would actually notice?

The History Project
Photos from the History Project at UC-Davis.

The Sokal Hoax: Overview of the Controversy
Descripton of the Sokal hoax. See also Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity

The Sokal Hoax: The Paper and the Controversy
In the Spring of 1996 Physicist Alan Sokal published a hoax theory paper in a respected academic journal "Social Text. Sokal's website contains many documents on the hoax, including the the text of the paper: Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity"

The World of Michel Foucault
Includes many of his writings, eg Archeology of Knowledge

Times Square monitoring/surveillance
Sensors, helicopters, and computer graphics keep eye on Times Square

Visual Communication - Visual Rhetorics: A List of Links
Some helpful links to examples of visual media. Of particular interest: the "early visual media" section.

Visual Expert Human Factors: Photographs vs. Reality
law site. Problems of using photos in court to represent "what people would have seen"

Image Collections and Museums

100 Photographs that Changed the World
A gallery by Time-Life exhibiting photographs that had a significant impact on the world of their time.

@Explore Art at the Getty Museum
Browse many of the works of art on display at the Getty

Art History Resources: Image Collections
Extensive list of links to image archives.

Contemporary Art - World Wide Arts Resources
The largest site for contemporary art, art news, art history, contemporary artist and gallery portfolios, online since 1995

Himalayan Art
An online gallery with over 17,000 images of art from the Himalayas

Historical Computer Images
A gallery of early digital images, with explanations of their relevance to their times.

Images from Science - The Photographs
An archive of science images, hosted by RIT.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Online information and store for the Metropolitan Museum of Art

National Gallery of Art
online information and shop for the The National Gallery of Art, including streaming audio/slideshow tours.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
online information and store for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including the Rodin Museum

State Hermitage Museum, Russia
The State Hermitage occupies six buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva, right in the heart of St Petersburg, Russia. Virtual tours, viewings, and academy.

Private project from Nicolas Pioch in Paris, France to provide more art resources freely available on the Web

Political Issues

Abu Ghraib prison photos
Torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military

Bamiyan - Between Cult and Culture: Bamiyan, Islamic Iconoclasm, and the Museum - Afghanistan
"This article uses the recent controversy regarding the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas as a paradigm to challenge essentializing notions of an "Islamic" response to the image."

Bamiyan - Brush Up Your Bible: A Graven Image
Discussion of semitic tribes and graven images

Bamiyan - Buddha di Bamiyan
A lot of good pictures of the Buddahs, predestruction

Bamiyan - Photos document destruction of Afghan Buddhas
UNESCO confirms destruction of Bamiyan Baddahs (CNN).

Bamiyan - The Buddha of Bamiyan - IGP - ETH Zurich
Web site on 3D reconstruction from photos

Bamiyan - The age of Iconoclasm
[Go to and enter "iconoclasm." You need to be on campus or logged in with your NetID to the virtual reference collection .]

Bamiyan - Town of Bamiyan Destroyed by Taleban
BBC article on the destruction of the town of Bamiyan

Iraqi People Tear Down Saddam's Statue; Statue Not Happy
Satire on statue destruction with good statue pictures of Hussein

Saddam's Symbol Tumbles Down
BBC report of the destruction of Saddam Hussein's statue

Tiananmen Square Massacre
The Massacre - June 4, 1989 - photos

War Propadanda and the Capture of Saddam Hussein
Critical analysis of photos and accounts about the capture of Saddam Hussein

War and the Media: A Resource Unit
If "truth is the first casualty" during wartime, students need to learn what kinds of questions to ask of the news reports they get from the media and to develop skills and understandings that make them more critical readers, listeners and viewers.

Visual Literacy

  Pomona College Online Visual Literacy Project
Pomona College, Claremont, CA "To be verbally literate, one must possess and be able to manipulate the basic components of written language: the letters, words, spelling, grammar, syntax."

Visual Literacy: Building Skills for a Digital Culture
Another assessment of the importance of visual literacy, with more of an emphasis on digital culture development.