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UAL Research Online

Visual Elements and Visual Paradigms. Re-thinking scientific conceptual figures through Graphic Design

Brown, Gillian (2019) Visual Elements and Visual Paradigms. Re-thinking scientific conceptual figures through Graphic Design. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Brown, Gillian

Every field of science has its own specialised visual language, developed over decades, if not centuries, and comprehensible only to those working in that field. Scientists utilise their particular visual language in conceptual figures, used to communicate their theories, ideas and processes to their peers via journal articles. Due to the scientific knowledge required to create and read such figures, it is rare for graphic designers to be involved in their production.

This research thesis undertakes an investigation of these scientific conceptual figures, one that puts their scientific meaning at the forefront. Graphic design practice forms an essential component of a new methodological framework for the visual analysis of such figures. Re-drawing and dismantling conceptual figures into their visual elements allows the visual language to be decoded. This includes the identification of visual paradigms; visual representations of key scientific concepts, that provide important context for a knowledgeable viewer. The analysis also takes into account the culture of scientific research that exerts considerable influence on the visual appearance of conceptual figures.

Armed with this knowledge, a graphic designer should be in a position to work with conceptual figures from that field of science. To test this hypothesis, the visual analysis is then applied in a real-world setting, in a collaboration with the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences at King’s College London. Once identified, the visual elements and visual paradigms used in neuroscience form the building blocks of a new visual communication framework. A library of editable and adaptable visual elements provides the means whereby the neuroscientists themselves can produce their own bespoke conceptual figures, representing a significant change in their working practices. Their use of graphic design practice to construct the figures also provides an opportunity for them to gain additional insights into their research.

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: September 2019
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2020 08:35
Last Modified: 07 May 2024 09:43
Item ID: 16020
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/16020

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