Year

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Law, Humanities and the Arts

Advisor(s)

Associate Professor Brogan Bunt

Abstract

Visual communication design is traditionally a practice embedded in the professional context of creative service provision within the fabric of post-industrial knowledge economies. The recent emergence of the visual communication designer as researcher and practitioner in collaborative, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research projects suggests that a reconsideration of the practice of visual communication design is important (Findeli et al 2008; Poggenpohl & Winkler 2010). This new role of researcher and practitioner challenges the service provision model by accentuating social relations and responsible action. In this role a critical attitude (Blauvelt 2002; Fry 2009; Malpass 2012; Maze 2014) is necessary, as participation in research projects requires the negotiation of social and cultural complexities and disciplinary uncertainty (Kagan 2011; Nicolescu 2002a; Smith 1998). This exegesis encompasses three research strands in environmental communication design. These include Indigenous-led projects that I have participated in since 2002, interdisciplinary research projects in natural resource management and Drawing Country, a self-initiated creative drawing project. In this research through design (Jonas 2012), the analysis of these strands is informed by an historical and theoretical investigation of chorography, the practice of tracing or describing a region or place (Casey 2002; Rickert 2007; Ulmer 1994). Tracing and its connection to drawing provides a way of thinking about the practice of visual communication design as a critical material, conceptual and performative act (Butler 2010; Petherbridge 2012). In this thesis I argue that critical tracing practice not only shapes innovative connections between designer, multi-disciplinary research team and community stakeholders, but also shapes a new relationship between designer and ground.

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