II. Cognition and Critical Theory of Graphics

A. From What to Why-- Hidden Worlds, The Challenge for New Graphics

As explored in Part I, Bowman (1968) demonstrates some design solutions to specific problems of graphic communication. He introduces solutions to graphically showing what, where, how, and how much. Comic book solutions to depicting who, when and why are introduced by McCloud (1993).      Bowman breaks down showing what-something-is into appearance, structure and organization. All are relevant to communicating alternative understandings of human ecosystems. He notes how appearance can be shown directly in terms of the physical semblance of the subject in a visual illusion. He provides cues for the illusion of transparency, for example, and also notes that detailed surficial qualities can be shown by apparent tactile character, i.e., textural illusions. Graphic depictions of structure, in comparison, shows what is usually hidden. The use of phantom views, imaginary removals with cutaway sections, and exploded views that reveal interior details or manner of assembly, go beyond what can normally be seen. Graphical depictions of organization use a variety of visual devices that reveal logical interrelationships of a subject in terms of the whole field of words, quantities and images presented in the design model.      Traditional technical graphics are generally better at showing how than why, and for human ecosystems we are interested in both. The two are closely related; the depiction of how can show abstracted movement, a system of arrow-form flows in relation to component parts, and process as a succession of related events. Cartoon (especially pictorial satire) and comic-strip graphic devices can show the how and the why of the invisible world of the mind, and the hidden world of motivations.

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