Rhetoric Neutrality

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Kim Nguyen

Module Leader- Martin Devenny
CDI Level 5 C & CS
Module code- 5CTA1011
Critical Analysis
The rhetoric of neutrality- Robin Kinross
Discuss the visual rhetoric in graphic design.

Graphic design is a vast industry in visual communication, using information, typography, isotopes, and diagrams as a way to communicate across to its audiences. Through detailed investigations of design and taking on Robin Kinross (1985), claims that the distinction between design for information and design for persuasion “cannot be a clear one” this work will explore the possibilities of visual rhetoric in graphic design.

The term rhetoric is using language for the purpose of persuasion. (Jury, 2004). Graphic design is seen as neutral as it is all about its function and ‘pure information’, as opposed to advertising, which promotes and persuades. Yet it is a designer’s job to communicate and translate concepts and ideas into visual representations.

These visual representations have a purpose and since these designs have a purpose, it is essentially the rhetorical functions in Graphic design. It could be argued, what is the message that is to be persuaded? But what is the point of having a graphics piece that has no meaning? The message portrayed is hidden by many aspects of rhetoric this does not necessary mean that all persuasion is in the form of brain washing, but a way of reasoning. Whether or not the information had been intended to be neutral, there is always some kind of rhetorical function behind it.

In Robin Kinross the rhetoric of Neutrality, Gui Bosiepe’s theory is an example that although information design is one of the most neutral aspects in information graphic design, purely as it is focused on its objectivity, it is still not free from rhetoric. When presenting information, it has to be clear and easily accessible in order for the intended audience to understand it. Being able to manage and sort out information and communicate to the reader is a rhetorical function. Taking one of Bonsiepe’s categories of information, train timetables; although it is just presenting information with train times in grids and tables, it is using rhetorical means as the information has simply been organised in a way that would be easily read and understood by its users. As information has been put into a table, it influences the reader to believe that the information given is factual and reliable.

“Informative assertions are interlarded with rhetoric to a greater or lesser degree. Information without rhetoric is a pipe- dream which ends up in the break- down of communication and total silence. “(Kinross, 1989). This suggests that information has aims to target rhetorical functions, without it, it would not be able to communicate its idea to the audience. Considering that all information design is in graphic design, it would have an aim at a specific audience, have a purpose and put it into context, therefore having an influence in information design. With the use of typeface and layout it makes it more appealing thus rhetoric and having an influence in graphic design. For example the London Underground Map. It is information that has been designed to communicate users where places and stations are and how to get there. The information is carefully laid out, so that the typeface is clear and easy to read by its target audience. The readability of the page is simple to navigate by using colours and numbers to indicate different zones and the different tube lines. If the tube map failed to communicate this, through its readability, this would be the ‘breakdown’ in communcication.

Readers process the information on a page from their very first glimpse and instantly are able to have a general feel about the information presented as a whole, this has a persuasive effect on the reader which can be supported by a passage from the College writer: A guide to thinking, writing, and researching, brief “Interpreting an...
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