Fellow travellers

By this point, I would have thought I’d have a pretty good grasp on visual things. I began seriously studying painting and drawing as I entered high school. I have a terminal degree in visual art. My studio art practice spanned decades. Even more, I’ve spent the last five years pursuing social science doctoral research in the area of visual information. I should be an expert, right?

But more often than not, I feel like I’m barely staying oriented in a forest of images and visual experiences. This blog is a record of my travels. It is a trail of bread crumbs.  It is a documentary of images and image-making in the wild. It is a menagerie of inspiring, strange,  beautiful and puzzling specimens from the visual forest.

There are a lot of us out here exploring this visual domain, including artists, designers, social and computer scientists, architects, and historians, to name a few.  We are working in different (and sometimes contentious) disciplines defined by discrete and sometimes singular methodologies: Visual art. Graphic design. Information visualization. Computer visualization. Photography. Video. Digital media. Interaction design. Computer art. Semiotics. Cultural criticism. Art history.

The diversity of those of us traveling in this visual forest speaks to the richness of this place. Images are deeply embedded in our communication systems. Visual representation is thoroughly entwined in our perception of the world. (Those unable to see are not to be excluded, for this lack of coupling can reveal much.) Philosophically, the concept of vision and sight is fundamental.

It is certainly a beautiful and intriguing place, this visual forest. But the paths through this neck of the woods are often non-linear and the signage can be, curiously, simultaneously cryptic and persuasive. So I will try to plot some waypoints as I travel, in an effort to keep sight of the forest amidst all the trees. And now I think I have run the forest metaphor into the ground… (no pun intended.)

Olympic National Park in late August 2009. Photo by Frank Kovalchek. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons Mar 10, 2011.

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