Visual Persuasion in the Law
New digital technologies are altering the way law is practiced and taught. Images are increasingly becoming a regular part of the way lawyers communicate and argue (in court and out). Thinking in images, however, is different from thinking in words alone, and competency in the production, interpretation, and cross-examination of images is not given. Like the art of writing and reading words, visual literacy also requires deliberate cultivation. That is the objective of this course. Students will cultivate through hands-on visual production the skill set that lawyers need for effective visual communication and advocacy in the digital age. We will read across several disciplines (including cognitive studies, art history, the semiotics of advertising, popular culture studies, etc.) while also engaging in basic visual training (including the rudiments of camera work, lighting, sound, and digital editing). We will work collaboratively as a seminar and in the Digital Media Lab. Each student will engage in a project that will require the application of various visual competencies. Student projects may include: the production of demonstrative evidence or closing visual arguments in connection with actual cases; short film documentaries on specific legal subjects (based on past or current cases or controversies); as well as the creation of visual teaching objects (such as graphics and games) that may be used in class or on line to teach legal topic. No previous background in visual production is required.