Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Contact details

This blog represents an attempt to make available online, the whole of my practice-based PhD.
This site documents the development of the Thirteen Projects and holds images, working visuals and additional information which was not possible to include within the bound text. This site acts as both a gallery and archive and should be explored in conjunction with the written exegesis. For a fuller introduction to the projects and a full listing click on the blue arrow above. Chapter headings and the Ph.D. abstract are available from the options below.

I am a member of the Images in Practice network - a research project set-up at the University of Portsmouth in order to explore how practice based study at this level can be more widely disseminated using free and easy online technologies. If you have any comments or questions please email me: maureen.oneill@port.ac.uk

Dr Maureen O'Neill, SFHEA, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Illustration
Level 6 Coordinator
School of Art and Design
The University of Portsmouth - Eldon Building
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2DJ

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Project 1 Map of Life

Map of life evidences a visual investigation into the potential of the human form as a framework generated as a means to place map types with the implication of the body as map of life. Influences for this project were map attributes, grids and proportion.

Project 2 Macro/Micro Map of Maps

Macro/Micro Map of Maps is a visual investigation developed through the use of cross-section as a device to construct a panorama showing visual representations detailing the scale of 'map’ spectrums from cosmos to DNA with relevant points between. The fulcrum of the scale being man.

Influences for this project were map types, cross section and the notion of macrocosm and microcosm the graphic form used by Robert Fludd (Jocelyn Godwin, 1979) to describe the creation of the universe, man as a universe in miniature and his connection with the former.

A mirror version using map symbols was produced extending the concept of macro/micro. Moving from one side of the spectrum using simple point symbols through a set of visual variables to man and into the microcosm with another set of map point symbols. A major influence was the 1977 film ‘Powers of Ten’ by Charles and Ray Eames, which uses as its pivot the human to scale a macro/micro journey from the centre of the nucleus of an atom to the edge of the observable universe.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Project 3 An Island as a Navigational Tool

As it became apparent, that to begin to construct the meta-map visually, the notion of a topography was required. Words associated with maps were listed around the notion of journey, navigation, and the view of the traveller, discovering through a journey. Peter Greenaway, an artist film maker, uses the metaphor of map both visually and textually in his work. They are often illustrated by him and used as objects in the construction of his films. They can be abstract and cling tenuously to the concept of map as an artefact with a didactic perspective. Examples of these are used in his film 'A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist’ (1978), which depicts an ornithologist‘s journey from city to wilderness conducted with the help of ninety two maps.

His realistic map illustrated to support his filmic version of Shakespeare's The Tempest entitled ‘Prospero's Books’ (1991), uses cultural and historical references to map the exile's island territory using moats, mazes, pyramids, monuments, forests and open cornfields, a magical island which becomes a place of illusion and deception.

Development of an island as framework to provide a navigational tool for positioning information, empowering the viewer to access knowledge about maps through varying landscapes became apparent. I decided to explore the opportunities around the concept of an island surrounded by seas and oceans that could conceal and reveal information through a journey of various panoramas allowing the viewer to choose their own route and find their own place within the landscape directed by the use of cartographic conventions. Compass points were used to locate and link particular areas of the island with words, but above and below too, with constructions, geologies, geographies, atmospheres and seasonal climate changes to contain, assemble, plot and map the locations of the taxonomy of maps.

Final prints

Details of the prints

Project 4 Map of Repetition

A Survey of The Collins English Thesaurus

The geography of the land is in the last resort the geography of the mind
(Jasper Johns)

This project was produced to test the flexibility of a map as a medium for the communication of non geographic data. Could you map a word? The word repetition was presented as a one word title for a short practical Ph.D group-project based around our own research. This project came from a notion that we enjoy perusing both dictionaries and maps for words and my assumption was that through gathering primary data around the word repetition and associated words, using qualities of mapness and identifying the core characteristics and qualities of map production a framework could be developed for plotting and placing text as an alternative to textual alphabetical listing. It could provide new ways of accessing textual information that would excite the viewer, plotting journeys from one word to another

If we accept that maps almost without exception communicate information about locations and connections among locations and that anything that we can spatially or temporarily conceive can be mapped, the question was could a thesaurus be mapped? My objective was to produce a cartographic fantasy based on my research using accredited graphic devices to give a consensus of understanding of spatial qualities. Maps express quantities visually by location, they give us a means to store, analyse, compare, generalise and abstract. Maps fail when the reader cannot find the information needed or cannot ‘read’ the map’s language, or cannot relate the map to the real world. With the help of visual conventions and elements of map language such as symbolism, orientation and scale I hoped to create a selective map showing the richness of words and connections and links between them. I wanted to extend the belief that this may be just one of a myriad of maps that would cover the complete territory of the thesaurus.

Project 5 Dancing the Line between a Joke and Deception

Dancing the Line Between Joke and Deception was a short project for the Ph.D, by practice-based students, where our own research would be used around a themed project. I wanted to use this project to explore map as deceit and how far the intrinsic nature of a map could support a fictional sequence of events. Monmonier details many forms of deceit using the map form and implies that maps can be used to send subtle or subliminal messages and one of these messages could be that the work is scholarly and probably based on science, that it is truthful.

The project centres around the joke: Why did the chicken cross the road? The concept involved convincing the audience that this was one of a number of ‘World’s Great Mysteries’ (WGM) that were being investigated.

Evidence to support an understanding that it may have been solved included:

The chicken.

A brown manilla folder which held the paper evidence that had been collated holding Form WGM 1166718/006. Completed by Agent Fox Mulder which gives analysis and evidence of the event. This also lists information enclosed in the folder.

A map of the route taken by the chicken before it crossed the road.

Photographs of ‘Buddy' the chicken and a description. 

Photographic evidence of the chicken as it is about to cross.

Recorded answer data from eminent historical characters.

Project 6 Mapping a Journey

This experiment was to examine the design factors that facilitate the mystery of artistic and design expression to communicate the notion of mapness. The objective of my case study is to provide me with some insight into the conceptualisation of ideas and mediums that a visual person would bring to the problem of mapping a journey through an internal space. How would the illustrator deal with the preconceptions that would come from an unconsciously acquired understanding of cartographic conventions?

There appears to be very little research around the relationship between map and art or map and beauty and how we recognise visual images that have map like qualities.
(Keates, 1996, p.183)

In order to investigate what others might employ to give authenticity to the route of a journey I undertookMapping a Journey. My intention was to purposefully create a situation where design aware individuals would need to call upon their repository of acquired characteristics for visual conveyance of an illustration of journey. What conventions would they evoke, which may they break and what might they invent. Would indeed map archetypes become evident in their need to express a very human necessity getting from A to B?

The visual results from the project, a questionnaire and a number of interviews with these students are analysed and discussed in terms of how people with little or no knowledge of formal cartography visually depict a journey through a space.

The brief required the students to produce a map of their journey to the illustration studios starting from the front door of the building to their desk. They were allowed to use any of the standard mapping conventions, line, colour, symbol and keys, or could create their own. It was indicated that the purpose of the project was to try and convey a sense of direction and location. It was designed to allow this group of imagemakers to use their visual knowledge and skills bringing a sense of focus onto the map through constraints. Restricting the size and designating the format for the cover, folding and size would prevent the student from making the object their primary concern. The object was to initialise the research process. Forty students were briefed and thirty-two students handed-in a visual artifact.