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The deep human roots of the visual creative explosion

Since our early human ancestors depicted their lives on cave walls, before the first words were written, we communicated through pictures. In fact, text alphabets began as pictures and morphed into modern letters over thousands of years.

first alphabets As such, when we consider the visual creative explosion, we’re talking about something for which there was always a human desire. Art has been present in “all stages of civilization and in every region of the world.” 65% of us are visual learners, and 50% of the human brain is devoted directly or indirectly to vision.

Whether the urge to express ourselves and absorb information visually originates somewhere within our biology is a question that has been explored by everyone from Darwin to modern neuroscientists, but regardless of its genesis, it’s clear that the urge has been part of the human story since time immemorial.

Technologies, in this context, are modern means to ancient ends: visual expression and communication. While devices and networks connect us to each other functionally, the content we create, share and experience across them connects us emotionally–especially when that content is visual.

In the broadest terms, the visual creative explosion is the inevitable result of widespread and profound improvements to our capacity to connect and create. Zooming in a bit, we see barriers to entry being lowered as the “friction” that normally accompanies creative output withers away.

The digital universe–including operating systems, the web, and mobile–began with text. Text is visual by definition, but aside from text-based art forms like calligraphy and experimental typography, text is usually not visually expressive to the same extent as art forms like painting and photography.

Digital became truly visual relatively recently. Images are taking center stage everywhere we look, and the web is changing to accommodate the way we, as a society, contribute and experience visual content. This is inevitable, and overdue.

It’s our hope that in the rush to extract business value from the abundance of visual content creation, we never lose sight of this simple, abiding truth: Behind every piece of visual content, there is a person, a story, and an ancient, human tradition.

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