Thinking Geo/graphically: The Interdisciplinary Space between Graphic Design and Cultural Geography

Alison Barnes


In relation to the understanding and representation of everyday life and place, it is clear that many cultural geographers are beginning to explore what one might call “creative” qualitative research methods, the majority of which draw on the discipline of fine art. In particular, the use of film and sound within research is increasing, as are calls for conference submissions and journal articles relating to such work. Such developments within cultural geography mirror those across qualitative research within the broader social science arena, and for geographers the use of this type of media is perhaps a way to contend with the ongoing, relational nature of place and the representational challenge that brings. In contrast, the perception of the traditional medium of print seems to be that it is lacking the fluid nature of film or sound, only capable of generating representations of place that are too “static” or “fixed.” However, this paper proposes that interdisciplinary collaboration between cultural geography and graphic design offers much with regard to the development of print-based creative methods for understanding and representing everyday life and place. It suggests that the form of the book offers an opportunity to develop geo/graphic work that engages both form and content in a holistic way, enabling the production of a space of interpretation and multi-sensory exploration for the reader. Such work engages with contemporary debates around representation, and positions the reader’s interaction with the book as both cognitively and performatively embodied. For the researcher, the geo/graphic design process also functions as an analytical tool, one that, through the development of the material form of the work, re-situates them in place and enables further reflection and understanding.



Cultural geography; graphic design; typography; place; representation; interdiscplinarity; geo/graphic

Full Text: