Close readings of diagrams with Dennis McNulty
Diagrams have a language of their own. The Diagram Reading Group seeks to explore the dialects of this language which relate specifically to science and technical research. Exploring diagrams that are fundamental to the field and work of the participants, the group will establish an interdisciplinary discussion, producing new thinking based on the visual rather than the written. Participants are free to choose the 'reading material' for the other participants, therefore, upending traditional trajectories of reading and engagement.
Diagrams act as cognitive prosthetics, tools that aid in the creation and transmission of knowledge. Their use is especially prevalent in science and technology-related fields. The Diagram Reading Group is based on the premise that considering diagrammatic representations of knowledge can provide a way to expose and engage with disciplinary norms and biases. It inverts some of the characteristics of a traditional academic reading group and operates as follows. Each participant is asked to choose in advance a diagram that is significant for them in their research. At the workshop, each participant will be asked to briefly describe their relationship with it.
Some questions we will consider:
What is a diagram?
What are diagrams for?
How do diagrams work?
How is space represented?
How is time represented?
How are processes represented?
How much contextual knowledge is required in order to understand the diagram?
How legible is the diagram to the uninitiated?
Are there standard protocols for creating or reading diagrams?
Are there disciplinary standards relating to diagrams?
How are diagrams similar and dissimilar to language?
Can we think about a taxonomy of diagrams?
What kinds of things cannot be represented by diagrams?
If you would like to participate in the Diagram Reading Group please forward an image of your diagram in jpeg, gif or png format to email@example.com
Dennis McNulty is a multimedia artist. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Music and Media Technologies, both from Trinity College. His work often takes hybrid forms, informed by an interest in chronoception, proprioception and his background in music making.