There are three ways to depict an object or thing: representationally, abstractly, and symbolically. The representational way is "what we see and recognize from environment and experience". It is reality and the most effective way to represent what we see. Abstract is the "kinesthetic quality of a visual event reduced to the basic element". The more abstract it is, the more general and all encompassing it becomes. Abstraction can exist as a pure abstraction, where no connection can be drawn, or in a visual statement, where minimal representation is used. Symbolic messages has the ultimate simplicity. It is in the "world of coded symbol systems which man has created arbitrarily, and to which he has attached meaning".
The reading in general was helpful in defining what makes representational, abstract, and symbolic work. At the end of the reading somewhere, it refers to a Chinese quote that says "one picture is worth a thousand words" and that "one symbol is worth a thousand pictures". I really liked that idea. Also in the reading by Ellen Lupton, it talks about one of Dondis's study regarding a square and how literate and illiterate people read it. It really does prove that abstraction is a skill and not a universal perception.