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Intersections between visual design and representation: An evaluative study of the ethical dilemmas in the production of HIV/AIDS advocacy advertisements

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posted on 22.05.2021, 11:41 by Adam Daniel Calogero Ferraro
HIV/AIDS advocacy advertisements often use constructions of specific cultural groups to communicate the need for immediate action to prevent the spread of the virus. This study examines how graphic design strategies such as the use and juxtaposition of colour, photography, typography and vectors create representations of cultural identities. A selection of documents collected from The AIDS Committee of Toronto, International AIDS Day 2009 and The Stephen Lewis Foundation were the sites of the analysis. Drawing from theories of cultural studies and philosophy, this research project examined the semiotic strategies of the documents to develop a set of ethical best practices for visual design. Issues including the representation of cultural groups through victimage, as well as the pace at which an audience is presented information, were key in understanding ethical challenges the visual design of these documents present. The following set of best practices were developed to account for the emerging conventions and moral dilemmas identified in the study: i) Recognizing the harm of victimizing groups, ii) Developing visual representations that avoid negatively stereotyping groups, and iii) Accurately explaining HIV/AIDS issues and its prevention rather than relying on narratives.





Master of Professional Communication


Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type