The Arts Glossary
2D / two-dimensional
Artworks that exist on a flat surface, that have height and width, such as paintings and drawings.
3D / three-dimensional
Artworks that have depth as well as height and width, such as sculpture and installation.
4D / four-dimensional
Artworks that have depth, height, width and added temporal and spatial dimensions. For example, artworks that incorporate time, such as time-based installations, or artworks that incorporate performance on a moving image.
Specific artistic awareness, or a deep appreciation of the meaning of an artistic experience through intellectual, emotional and/or sensual response to a work of art.
In Visual Arts used in combination with the art principles: specifically: line, shape, tone, texture, form, time and light.
In Visual Arts: conventions associated with organising art elements in a visual art work including space, repetition (pattern), unity (harmony), variety, movement, balance, contrast, proportion and scale.
Specific area of arts practice such as Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music, Visual Arts and/or Visual Communication. Within each discipline, a diverse range of styles, genres and forms are practised.
In Dance, the manner in which movement of the body is clearly coordinated and differentiated. For example, lifting the arm with the elbow initiating the movement.
In Drama, voice: to form clear, distinct and accurate sounds for dramatic purpose; movement: to isolate and move specific parts of the body for dramatic purpose.
In Music, the way a note is sung or played, such as short and detached (staccato), smooth (legato) or accented, which contributes to the overall style and interpretation.
Generic term for the creators and makers of an artwork. Specific terminology such as composer, actor, film-maker is used in curriculum for particular Arts disciplines.
Generic term for a work or performance. When referred to generically this curriculum uses the term ‘artwork’. Within each Arts subject, the discipline-specific terms are used. Artworks are frequently described with reference to forms or styles.
Individuals or groups of people who experience the arts in a range of settings and contexts (formal, informal, virtual or interactive) through intellectual, emotional and social engagement. The artist is audience to their own artwork.
Particular listening skills students develop to identify and discriminate between sounds in Music.
Focuses on the individual’s awareness of their capacity to use their own body to form and/or manipulate body shapes, body bases, body parts, locomotor and non-locomotor movements.
Body parts that support the rest of the body. For example, when standing, the feet are the body base; when kneeling, the knees are the body base.
Non-verbal communications through movement, gesture, facial expression, posture and proxemics (non-verbal communication).
Using isolated parts or sections of the body. For example, arms, legs, head, torso, feet or hands.
Body areas of right side, left side, front, back, upper half and/or lower half.
The qualities of a work or performance that communicate tone, mood and/or feeling.
In Drama, identification and portrayal of a person’s values, attitudes, intentions and actions as imagined relationships, situations and ideas in dramatic action.
The tools a choreographer selects and uses to communicate ideas, including: repetition, contrast, variation, sequence, canon abstraction and transition.
The arrangement of movement within the structure of a dance.
In Media Arts, codes can be further broken down into technical codes (such as camera angles, brush strokes, body movement) and symbolic codes (such as the language, dress, actions of characters, visual symbols).
The placement or arrangement of elements, components or conventions in artworks.
In Music, a piece of music or music work.
Traditional, stylistically or culturally accepted ways of doing things. Each art form has hundreds of conventions built up over time. Conventions are dynamic and ever-changing.
In Visual Arts conventions can refer to the combination of art elements, art principles, composition and style.
An intellectual and physical activity where artists explore the materials and processes to produce unique objects for the purposes of: experimentation with form or function; exhibition; production; and personal or community need. Indigenous cultures draw no distinction between art and craft and, similarly, contemporary culture values the interplay between the art/craft, design/craft, the art/designer or the design/maker. The crafted and handmade sit alongside the manufactured design object as part of historical, national and cultural identities.
Used in Visual Communication Design and include point, line, shape, colour, tone texture, form and type.
Used in Visual Communication Design and are accepted conventions associated with organising design elements and can include unity, balance, hierarchy, scale, proportion, emphasis, repetition, similarity and contrast.
Critical, creative and reflective thinking which form part of the design process in Visual Communication Design.
Used in Visual Communication Design to communicate and present concepts and include materials, media, methods and technologies in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) formats.
The driving force and forward motion of drama to create dramatic meaning, tension, belief and audience engagement. The movement of the drama from the introduction, exposition of ideas and conflict to a resolution.
A signified, intended purpose or effect interpreted from the communication of expressive dramatic action.
In Dance, refers to how movement is performed, and includes the weight, force, and/or energy that are applied to movement over time. For example, heavy to light weight, strong to gentle force, or fast to slow release of energy.
In Drama, dynamics can refer to relationships between characters or the flow/speed of the action.
In Music, dynamics and expression refers to how the sound is performed, including sound qualities. For example, the relative volume and intensity of sound.
Elements of dance
Space: where the body moves, including level, dimension, direction, shape, active space, positive space, negative space, planes, pathways, general space, personal space and performance space
Time: when dance occurs (how long it takes), including metre, tempo, momentum, accent, duration, phrasing, rhythmic patterns, stillness and beat
Dynamics: how dance is performed, including weight, force, energy and movement qualities
Relationships: associations or connections occurring when the body dances: between body parts (for example, right arm to left arm, hand to face); the body and the floor (for example, close to, away from); the body and objects (for example, a chair, fan, stick, scarf); the body and space (for example, an expansive or limited relationship); and the body and others (for example, dance to one or more dancers)
Elements of drama
Role, character and relationships:
Role and character: identification and portrayal of a person’s values, attitudes, intentions and actions as imagined relationships, situations and ideas in dramatic action; role focus on type and stereotype; characters are detailed and specific.
Relationships: the connections and interactions between people that affect the dramatic action.
Situation: the setting and circumstances of the dramatic action – the who, what, where, when and what is at stake of the roles/characters.
Voice and movement:
Voice: using voice expressively to create roles, situations, relationships, atmosphere and symbols
Movement: using facial expression, posture and action expressively in space and time to create roles, situations, relationships, atmosphere and symbols.
Focus: directing and intensifying attention and framing moments of dramatic action.
Tension: sense of anticipation or conflict within characters or character relationships, or problems, surprise and mystery in stories and ideas to propel dramatic action and create audience engagement.
Space and time:
Space: the physical space of the performance and audience, fictional space of the dramatic action and the emotional space between characters.
Time: fictional time in the narrative or setting; timing of one moment to the next contributing to the tension and rhythm of dramatic action.
Language, ideas, dramatic meaning, mood and atmosphere, and symbol:
Language, ideas and dramatic meaning: the choice of linguistic expression and ideas in drama used to create dramatic action
Mood and atmosphere: the feeling or tone of both the physical space and the dramatic action created by or emerging from the performance
Symbol: associations that occur when something is used to represent something else to reinforce or extend dramatic meaning
Elements of media arts
Also known as technical and symbolic elements that work together to create meaning in different contexts and forms for different purposes. Elements of media arts include composition, time, space, sound, movement and lighting.
Elements of music
Rhythm (including tempo and metre): the organisation of sound and silence using beat, rhythm and tempo (time).
Pitch: the relative highness or lowness of sound. Pitch occurs horizontally (as in a melody) and vertically (as in harmony).
Dynamics and expression: the relative volume (loudness) and intensity of sound and the way that sound is articulated and interpreted.
Form and structure: the plan or design of a piece of music described by identifying what is the same and what is different and the ordering of ideas in the piece.
Timbre: the particular tone, colour or quality that distinguishes a sound or combinations of sounds.
Texture: the layers of sound in a musical work and the relationship between them.
In Dance, for example, skills such as facial expression or gesture that performers use to communicate in performance.
In Drama, is the use of skills such as facial and vocal expression to communicate in performance.
In Music, is the use of elements such as dynamics or articulation combined with technical skills to enhance performance.
To concentrate the attention on a spatial direction or a point in space to intensify attention or increase the projection of intent. For example:
• in Dance, to concentrate on the dancer’s line of sight or dramatic action
• in Drama, directing and intensifying attention and framing moments of dramatic action or identifying the main idea of the drama
• in Visual Arts, to draw the audience ’s attention to a particular point in the artwork.
In each Arts subject, form is the whole of an artwork created by the elements and/or materials and the way they are structured:
• in Dance, form is the shape or structure of a dance. For example, AB, ABA, rondo, narrative, chance
• in Drama, form is the way drama is structured. Drama forms are shaped by the application of the elements of drama within particular social, cultural and historical contexts
• in Media Arts, examples such as film, news report, documentary, advertisement, music video, animation and video games.
• in Music, form is the sections within a piece of music, for example, binary form (AB) contains section A, then section B; ternary form (ABA) contains section A, section B, then return to section A; rondo form (ABACA) contains section A, section B, section C, then return to section A
• in Visual Arts, form can be specific to art practices such as ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing, digital photography and includes two-dimensional form (see 2D), three-dimensional form (see 3D) and four-dimensional form (see 4D).
Found sound sources
Natural and manufactured objects including stones and household objects.
Creative activity applying the elements of an arts discipline, spontaneously or in response to a given stimulus or structure.
In Dance, movement that is created either in free-form or in response to a given stimulus or structure
In Drama, enactment taking on roles and situations to create dramatic action and extend an idea; can be used to create a drama or as part of a development process
In Music, extending and varying music ideas in response to initial material or responses to music ideas generated by other performers.
In Media Arts, organisations that enable and constrain media production and use.
Key concepts (Media Arts)
Languages: refers to the system of signs or symbols that media artworks use to communicate ideas and stories. The language system is a combination of symbolic codes and the technical form of media arts technologies. The language systems of media artworks use and control technical and symbolic elements to communicate meaning.
Technologies: the tools and processes which are essential for producing, accessing and distributing media.
Institutions: the individuals, communities and organisations that influence, enable and constrain media production and use. Institutions are framed by the social, historical and cultural context.
Audiences: the individuals or groups for whom media artworks are made and who respond as consumers, citizens and creative individuals. audiences engage and interact based on expectation and experience.
Representation: the act of representing people, places and times, shared social values and beliefs through images, sounds and text, or a combination of these. The representations are a constructed reality.
How an individual perceives and controls their body in terms of physical activity and/or fine motor skills within the space of a dance.
Locomotor movement and non-locomotor movement
Locomotor: travelling movements, movement from one space to another such as walking, running, hopping, skipping, leaping or crawling.
Non-locomotor: movement of the body occurring above a stationary base, on the spot movements. Also called axial movement. For example, bending, stretching, twisting, shaking, bouncing, rising, sinking, pushing, pulling, or swinging and swaying.
Physical resources, equipment including technologies, and information used to make artworks. For example, paint, digital camera, pencil, drum and/or clarinet.
Materials and technologies used to make arts works.
How the media communicates to an audience. Media languages include written, verbal, non-verbal, visual and aural language.
The technical processes used to make visual communications. Methods can be traditional or contemporary, for example, painting, printing, photography.
The accumulation of movement, steps, gestures that make up a repertoire for physical expression of feelings or ideas.
Artworks that incorporate a broad range of media including graphics, text, digital media, audio or video.
Written symbols that represent and communicate sound. Notation can be invented, recognisable to a traditional style or culture, or digitally created.
In Dance, patterns created in the air or on the floor by the body or body parts as a dancer moves in and through space.
A type of expression communicated for a particular effect with distinguishing features and appearance, performance styles are defined by the way conventions and other elements are used in performance.
In Music, the highness or lowness of a sound.
Creating a play through improvisation or devising.
The application of Arts skills and knowledge to create, represent, communicate and respond in a specific arts discipline, form, tradition, style and/or genre. For example, in any Arts discipline, the practices of making and responding are interdependent and interactive. For example, the practices of interpreting, comparing and contrasting, reflecting, analysing, appreciating and evaluating can inform a making process but can also be used independently.
In Dance, choreography, performance and appreciation, improvisation, rehearsal, refinement.
In Drama, improvising, devising, playing, acting, directing, refining, scripting, practising, rehearsing, presenting and performing.
In Media Arts, engaging with communications technologies and cross disciplinary art forms to design, produce, distribute and interact with a range of print, audio and screen-based art works.
In Music, listening, improvising, composing, arranging, conducting, singing, playing, recording and notating, practising, rehearsing, presenting and performing.
In Visual Arts the use of conceptual and practical processes in art making such as the use of sources of inspiration, exploration of ideas, exploration of and experimentation with materials and techniques, and the development and refinement of art works.
In Visual Communication Design, the thinking and working processes used by designers.
Regularly revising, developing and consolidating skills, techniques and repertoire as a class or as an individual.
A method of teaching and learning drama where both the students and teacher are working in and out of role.
In Dance, the communication of meaning through extension and focus of the body.
In Drama, the loudness of the voice of an actor, and how it is carried to the audience.
Is a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they engage actively with people, objects and representations.
In Drama, Media Arts and Visual Arts, the expression or designation of a character, place, idea, image or information by some other term, character, symbol, diagram, image, sound or combination of visual and aural expression, based on shared social values and beliefs.
In Media Arts, one of the five key concepts.
In Visual Arts the use of images and symbols to represent ideas and meaning.
In Dance, combination of long and short movements.
In Music, combinations of long and short sounds that convey a sense of movement subdivision of sound within a beat.
In Media Arts, a technique or effect achieved in editing.
Adopting identification and portrayal of a person’s values, attitudes, intentions and actions and portraying these as imagined relationships, situations and ideas in dramatic action.
To pretend to be someone else.
Safe dance practices
Can be defined as the practice of selecting and executing safe movement. The focus is on providing dance activities and exercises which allow students to participate without risk of injury. All dance movement should be performed relevant to an individual’s body type and capabilities.
The dramatic action that occurs in a particular time and place; a section of a play.
A collection of notated representations of sound used to communicate musical information. Scores can use graphic, traditional, invented or stylistically specific symbols.
The linking together of series of ideas, much like words are linked together to form sentences and paragraphs.
In Dance, a choreographic device where movements are linked together to form a series of movements/phrases.
In Media Arts, a series of still and/or moving images with or without sound are intentionally put into an order.
In Music, a melodic, rhythmic or harmonic pattern. It can also describe the process or product of arranging blocks of music using ‘sequencing’ software.
In Media Arts, selecting and organising the elements of structure, intent, characters, settings and points of view within the conventions of a genre, such as a Hollywood love story that follows a pattern of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.
The influencing context of an artwork, such as Impressionism in Visual Arts; ballet or hip hop in Dance; Romanticism in Music; or postmodern, twenty-first century or contemporary, among many others.
Combination of proficiencies in control, accuracy, alignment, strength, balance and coordination in an art form that develop with practice:
In Dance: proficiencies developed through the acquisition of appropriate strength, flexibility, coordination and endurance in the performance of body actions, locomotor and non-locomotor movements, and developed with practice to perform in specific dance styles.
In Music: proficiencies developed with practice in order to sing or play instruments.
In Visual Arts proficiencies associated with different art forms, such as hand building skills in ceramics, camera techniques in photography.
In Visual Communication Design proficiencies with media, materials and methods to produce refined visual communication presentations.
In Dance, the acquisition and execution of dance skills within a given dance style, tradition or genre.
In Drama, techniques include ways of using voice and movement to create role and dramatic action; also techniques in lighting, sound, set building and painting, costume making, and make-up.
In Music, the capacity to control a voice or instrument in order to produce, control and/or vary a desired sound.
In Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design, the knowledge of and skills used in making an artwork in specific art forms.
The tools, equipment and materials for making and responding in a particular Arts discipline or form. One of the five key concepts in Media Arts.
The particular tone, colour or quality that distinguishes sound or combinations of sounds.
In Drama, tone of voice.
In Music, the particular characteristics of a sound.
In Visual Arts, the lightness or darkness of a colour (value).
A collection of perspectives, lenses or frames through which artworks can be explored and interpreted.
Visual Communication Design Process
The stages of the design process that form the framework for the creation of visual communications.
Combinations of components and approaches, such as combinations of elements, design principles, composition and style.
Combinations of approaches or techniques in compositions and representations.
See elements of visual arts and visual communication design.
Web site to visit: https://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au
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