Audio-visual Rhetoric and its Methods of Visualization


  • Gesche Joost Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Technical University of Berlin
  • Sandra Buchmueller Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Technical University of Berlin
  • Tom Bieling Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Technical University of Berlin


audio-visual rhetoric, visual media


In this paper, we describe a tool we have created that uses information design within the framework of rhetorical theory in order to investigate the structure of audio-visual media. From a design research perspective, we are especially interested in the power of visualization for media analysis. In this respect, we compare the mode of representation that is used for different methods of film analysis. We evaluate their ability to visualize the cinematic structure of film and its rhetorical impact. Within the realm of film analysis, we ask:

§     How can the use of digital media enhance the traditional or print-based analysis of film?

§     What is the influence of the selected semiotic code (text, image, or animation) on the interpretation of the medium and its structure?

To answer these questions, we introduce examples of visual notation systems that were applied to analyze film sequences within a research project. We discuss their method and value for the purpose of analysis and reflect on the role of the different semiotic codes (verbal text, image, and animation) that were applied.

With regard to the traditional protocols for analyzing film in writing or print, we hypothesize that this method is attended by a high loss of structural information when transferring the audio-visual, dynamic code of film into written text. While those protocols might be appropriate for describing the storyline or analyzing the plot, static and dynamic visual notations are more suitable forms for making explicit the structural and rhetorical phenomena of film. Visual notations might cause the least loss of information in the analytical process, and therefore might be of high value for academic film analysis.

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Author Biography

Gesche Joost, Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Technical University of Berlin

Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost is a Junior Professor for the Interaction Design & Media department at Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), and since 2005 she has headed the Design Research Lab at Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, an institute affiliated with TU Berlin.