Facades is the term Robert Cottingham uses for his pictures in which signs predominate. In these works, letters and words operate on more than one level.
The effort and techniques Cottingham describes are not limited to commercial signs. Mass media in general promote consumption.
Why does an evening news broadcast include mostly negative stories? Why do cigarette comercials depict young people enjoying a healthy lifestyle? Why do political campaign messages show candidates next to the flag? Answering these and similar questions requires the ability to analyze, not just absorb, mass media. To be media literate, analysis must go beyond content and address issues of form and sponsorship.
Given the significance of the visual component of mass media, art can serve as a useful resource in development of media literacy skills. In particular, the art of Robert Cottingham can introduce a discussion of media literacy in these areas:
The Media Awareness Network offers resources and practical support for media education in the home, school, and community.
Visit the Michigan State Library web site for information on thinking critically about web page content.