The transformations in technology and communications engulfing us are experienced even without fully comprehending the enormity of this revolution and its endless horizons. In the recent years, these developments created several new fields that greatly increased the scope of visual communication. This comes in response to various, recently-emerged market needs, as well as new perceptions originating together with the development of the electronic media. This new technology has generated a new method of presentation that has expanded the language of visual communication, changing and enhancing the visual image in its varying manifestations.
However, the social-sociological essence of visual design has grown even stronger. During this ongoing cultural revolution, the relationship between the individual and the public becomes open, finding new expressive channels. The dialogue between the local and the global undergoes reshaping as well, formulating its meaning as it is mirrored in the new means of representation and expression. In the branded consumer society, there is almost no service or product consumed in our surrounding that is not directly related to the field of visual communication design. These changes are rapid and immediate, and the traditional dissemination time of the visual message and various expressions of the visual communication field oblige us to develop a new perception and comprehension in reference to our position as a department, which is supposed prepare the next generation designers and to serve now, as an academy, as the vanguard for R&D of the evolving design consciousness and its socio-cultural context.
Perception of the study process in the department
The Bachelor visual communication design studies parallel the four major stages (below) in the development of the student, working together to mold him/her into a mature designer. This metaphorical super-structure supports the scope of the departmental curriculum.
Shape – The development of expressive skills, the experience of creative thought processes and acquaintance with basic visual elements.
Image – Familiarity with the cognitive, metaphorical, symbolic, cultural and ideological meanings of form and the investigation of the relationships between text and image.
Language – Understanding the syntax of images and words as sequences that create new meanings; observing the micro and macro in the context of creating and applying a new visual language.
Identity – The delineation of the various components and their definition in visual language; rendering them into an entity of recognizable character; creating dialogue between the visual object and its environment.
The department's curriculum refers to two main divisions: the Fundamentals Unit, studied during the first two years, and Specialization Studies, during the next two years (3-4).
The scope of the studies: 190 semester hrs. (140.5 credit points)
Structuring of the specialization is done by means of dialogue with the student, to access his/her personality and skills. The program focuses on process and experience, in search of the connection between the human and contentual elements. The curriculum offers an ideal recipe, focusing, while building the track, on the dialectical development between the objective professional needs of the student and his/her world of, on the one hand, and on the subjective skills, personal characteristics and the suitability of the student and his inner world, on the other hand, through the creation of a flexible delineation between different areas of expertise. This approach allows for matching and experiencing a variety of courses of study. The specialization studies enable deepening and expansion in many fields and areas that have changed and evolved since the start of the third millennium.
The division into specializations is based on the differentiation between three major qualities that characterize these specializations and constitute the building blocks of each. These three specialization tracks, adjusted according to the fundamental perception and offered to the student according to his/her personality and inclinations are:
Printed Media Design | Materials, Shapes
This specialization focuses on training the graduate as an artistic designer and manager in the medium of printed design and on a broad spectrum of topics that constitute the basis of modern graphic design in the era of globalization and branding revolution: image building and branding; visual communication products design; social and advertisement media design; systemic content design; and environmental communication design.
Screen Medium Design | Time, Narrative
This specialization trains the graduate as a designer, artistic manager and creator in the contemporary screen medium in all its relevant variations and expressions. The student learns and masters the language of design in motion that characterizes the visual aspect and acquires knowledge of this medium from the subject-matter, as well. These studies are open to supplementary studies, such as: content writing; scripts; sound design; familiarization with documentary cinema; directing of commercials and clips; animation films and video installations.
Interactive Media Studies | Games, Activation
This specialization prepares the graduates to become creators and designers in the varied, interactive media forms of today. The student learns and masters the new visual language and its perceptual applications developed as part of the interactive world with its many-varied constituent products: image design; advertisement in interactive space; game development; virtual environments; exhibition spaces; interactive installations; and individual-society interactions.
Choosing among the Specializations
These specializations offer a rich variety of topics of interest for the student, matching his skills. Additionally, there is the option of choosing courses from other department specializations according to the established regulations:
The student must choose five required courses in the chosen specialization that must be taken during the first semester of his/her third year of studies; at this time, the selection of optional courses is not allowed. During the two remaining semesters, the student must choose six more courses – four core courses and two "development workshops," two of which must be obligatory courses in the chosen specialization and one must be a core course in the specialization area. These four courses may be selected according to personal preference, so that the student may build an individualized and diversified track (a student requesting a course which is not among his/her registered specialization courses, requires a special permit from that course's lecturer).
Bear in mind that the field of visual communication is a dynamic one and that the modern designer requires multi-disciplinary skills; in order to create cooperation and mutual benefit, the department provides certain courses containing overlapping contents, shared by and relevant to all three specializations.
The emphasis in this study process is to broaden the students' horizons and to enhance their professional and cultural experience; thus, there are courses dealing with the relations between design and art that approach the visual communication medium as a tool of artistic and critical expression.
Social Projects and Connections to the Professional Community
Within the framework of these studies, students are exposed to several joint projects, shared by HIT and external companies and associations. During these projects, the student is required to cope with a structured work process in conjunction with a real body that executes the results of the academic process. So far, the department has enjoyed great exposure and received formidable appreciation for the achievements of its students in the conducted projects.
Each year, the department stages an exhibition of its graduates' projects, accompanied by a printed catalog. This provides some respectability to the graduates, before they depart academia into the real world as independent designers.
The Visual Communication Design Department holds designated annual forums to discuss topics of relevance in the field of visual communications. The participants include departmental lecturers and invited guests, some of them leaders in the field, with the intention of staging open and extensive discussions within the department that are essentially different from the in-depth process occurring during the academic year in the designated courses.