Land Diagrams and twinned studies
Land Diagrams, my other WordPress site, is an ongoing cross-disciplinary series of ‘twinned studies’, in which two high profile writers respond to the same land-based image without consulting each other. I’ve just published an article in Cultural Geographies called Land Diagrams: the new twinned studies, which partly discusses interdisciplinary approaches and histories of diagrammatic thought. I was concerned with intersections across geography, philosophy, anthropology, cartography, semiology, and information graphics – with texts such as Studies in Diagrammatology and Diagram Praxis (eds. Pombo and Gerner), Redrawing Anthropology: Materials, Movements, Lines (ed. Tim Ingold), Spatial Organization: The Geographer’s View of the World (Abler, Adams, and Gould), and Gillian Rose’s Visual Methodologies. Gillian’s visual/method/culture website is also a useful resource, and Sage have a new four volume set on Visual Methods, if you can get your hands on it.
The ekphrastic encounters of Land Diagrams are part of a more particular extra-disciplinary tradition (see David Kennedy’s new book, The Ekphrastic Encounter in Contemporary British Poetry and Elsewhere, 2012). In recent poetry, Claire Potter’s ‘diagrammatised’ poems are of interest, available in the second issue of VLAK: Contemporary Poetics and the Arts – while a recent interview she gave on the topic for Black Rider explicitly refers to the poem-infograph as participatory, ‘as though the filaments linking the poem and the reader were displayed as such’. Gertrude Stein’s diagramming of sentences in her carnet and her essay ‘Poetry and Grammar’ is described as a ‘machine-in-the-making’ by Gabrielle Dean (Grid Games: Gertrude Stein’s Diagrams and Detectives). Shearsman have recently published David Greenslade’s Lyrical Diagrams and have a sample of the PDF online. Greenslade has also written a piece for Junction Box, Diagrams – A Mythic Proposition, touching on Hephaestus, the engineer of the gods, and presenting the idea of the diagram as his ‘invisible net that captures objects’, as well as making a comparison to the net-like infrastructures of assembled complex objects such as wiring systems, plumbing systems, space stations, and air conditioning. Also of interest are book designer Colin Sackett’s small press reworkings of pedagogical and geographical texts such as Nature in Downland, the Beaufort Scale of Wind Force, The Land of Britain, etc., as well as his collections of marginalia and diagrams, like the little The True Line: The Landscape Diagrams of Geoffrey Hutchings, reviewed by Some Landscapes here and coincidentally on CG here. Colin’s reworking of Map and Photo Reading Answer Book is particularly visually apt, online here, with its use of the relics of earlier notations of landscape. Douglas Oliver’s The Diagram Poems, which I have briefly written about here on Intercapillary Space, is a series of ‘maps of raids’ or knitting patterns, as Ralph Hawkins points out in an earlier review which samples several of the images. I’ve also been – in a very minor way – experimenting with using old Forestry Commission diagrams, related to my PhD research on British forests and literature, which resulted in the chapbook SUCKERS, profiled here as part of the Lex-ICON colloquium and online project.
Land Diagrams was partly a response to thought about the limited approaches of interdisciplinarity and its rhetoric in preparation for a Landscape Surgery forum I ran in May called ‘In-Betweenness: cross-disciplinary research’. Several Land Diagrams are now forthcoming (and are perhaps a little overdue). Suggestions for images, or for contributors, will be welcomed!
Royal Holloway’s Geography department have also just created a website documenting Landscape Surgery’s earlier Visualising Geography project, eight collaborative projects between artists and geographers, called ‘Landing’.