International Journal of Art & Design Education

Perceptual Literacy and the Construction of Significant Meanings within Art Education (pages 272–285)

Volume 33.2   2014



In order to verify how important the ability to process visual images and sounds in a holistic way can be, we developed an experiment based on the production and reception of an art work that was conceived as a multi-sensorial experience and implied a complex understanding of visual and auditory information. We departed from the idea that to foster processes that encourage constructions of significant meanings it is necessary to abandon vision/audio-centric notions of objecthood and offer a general definition of the perceptual object.
The test was realised between the participants after modifying the performance conditions: some could not see the visuals, some could not hear the sound and others could appreciate the performance as a whole. Considering the results, we could infer that only the possibility to ‘read’ the performance as a whole encouraged construction of significant meanings. It would be possible to upgrade the approach, turning visual literacy into perceptual literacy, to contextualise artistic production that stimulates hybrid sensitive experiences. The education of critical perceivers should also enable transformations in responses to different stimuli. This is important if we consider the individuality of each student, his or her needs, affinities, cultural background, gender and so on.