I see the visual world as a continuum from pure expression to clear, direct communication – from completely abstract painting and sculpture to entirely descriptive info-graphics and everything in between. I note that both ends have elements of emotion and cognition because we are integrated human beings who always have aspects of both thinking and feeling in our ongoing human being-ness. We cannot avoid emotion and cognition as always deeply intertwingled.
I tend to operate somewhere in the middle of this continuum, usually integrating visual and verbal elements, trying as much as possible to use words when they do the job best, and visual elements (images and diagrams) when they do the job best. Mostly I work with large-scale (5 x 15 foot) information murals. Because most of them have a strong communicative purpose, the cognitive elements dominate. But the expressive elements are always present, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in a more ancillary role.
My work appears under a variety of names – visual language, the new cartography, information murals, info-graphics, knowledge mapping.
Often I am in the roll of “synthesizer” of deeply complex subject matter content based on contributions of many different members of a decision-analysis or decision-making group or task force. My ability to integrate these different points of view or even world views significantly helps my clients, who are very often large international task forces, NGOs, and governments with many disagreements. I think of the aim of my work as “Art + Science + Policy.”
The Representation of Meaning: Visual Information Design as a Practical and Fine Art
(A speech prepared for the InfoArcadia Exhibit, the Stroom Center for the Visual Arts, The Hague, The Netherlands, April 3, 2000)
Commissions – on the Communication Side of the Continuum
- Radioactive waste disposal - UK
- Global sustainability - WBCSD
- NASA research management – USA
- Suicide prevention – UK
- Policy Options for a Resource Efficient Economy (POLFREE) – EU
- Climate change - UK
Exploration and Research – both cognitive and expressive
- Can computers think? – Seven Giant Posters – order from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Avian Flu – The First Year of the Not Quite the Worst Pandemic
- China – Searching Again for its Rightful Place
- Info-murals for decision-makers on massive computer screens
- Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century
- How High Can It Fly? Examining the Evidence on Information Mapping's Method of High-Performance Communication Chapter 1. Chapter 2