Co-ordination: Prof. Dr. Kirsten Wagner
Running period: July 2011-June 2013
Short description of the research project:
The research project examines the possibility of a general concept of the structure image that includes different media and diagrammatical presentation forms. The semiotic concept of the structure image goes back to Charles Sanders Peirce who emphasized the structural similarity of a sign and its referent which especially characterizes the diagram as an iconic sign. Accordingly, the diagram is the epitome of the structure image, but also the map has been counted among it. The relationship between diagram and map is not only of a semiotic nature. It has its historical roots in the thematic cartography respectively the cartograms of the early nineteenth century. Besides the semiotic there is a photographic concept of the structure image which addresses not so much the structural similarity but a non-representative, generative photography. The research project "Structure Images. To the graphical method in art, design, and science" takes up both approaches in order to arrive not only at a semiotic but also at a historical and practical concept of the structure image.
Starting point of the study on structure images is the so-called graphical method which in the nineteenth century determines the epistemological practice of such diverse sciences as statistics, criminology, physiology, thematic cartography, or economy, and out of which the modern diagram in all its variations emerges. Characteristic of the graphical method is the use of self-registering apparatuses as well as new imaging techniques, especially photography, and its aim is the visualization of structures: structures of the population, structures of a delinquent behavior, of the animal organism and its functions, of goods and capital exchange, of settlement structures. Making visible the orders and patterns of social or natural processes correspondingly names a further aspect of the structure image. In this function the structure image also determines recent information visualization and information graphics which are topical in current studies on the diagram, but haven`t scarcely been analyzed in their own right.
The research project is associated to the design department of Bielefeld`s University of Applied Sciences and is based on an interdisciplinary co-operation between cultural studies, art history, philosophy, and the history of sciences.