Paper short abstract:
Graphic design supports understanding and action on climate change by visualising alternative scenarios, conceptual propositions and complex intellectual arguments. Two projects demonstrate how graphic design functions as a problem solving practice that facilitates new ways of thinking and doing.
Paper long abstract:
Different types of visual media work in unique ways to communicate climate change. For example, graphic design can support understanding and action on climate related issues with the use of a combination of words, fonts, photographs, illustrations, maps, diagrams, charts, graphs, timelines, network visualisations, data visualisations, information graphics and other visual strategies. With these tools designers display not only current and historical conditions (such as with photography alone) but they visualise alternative scenarios, conceptual propositions and complex intellectual arguments. With this paper I will review two graphic design projects that map issues of climate change. I will use these to describe specific ways that graphic design works to communicate complex ideas. The first project is Climaps by EMAPS: A Global Issue Atlas of Climate Change Adaptation (a 3-year collaborative project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union). The Emaps working group published 33 issue-maps on climate change. The second project is my own Mapping Climate Communication (a timeline and a network of actors) that contextualises events, actors, strategies, media coverage and discourses influencing public opinion. This project develops the concept of 'discursive confusion' to illustrate how obscuring rhetoric masks a lack of action on climate change. Both bodies of work respond to communication challenges. Graphic design is a problem solving practice that not only illustrates issues but facilitates new ways of thinking and doing. Both projects demonstrate how graphic designers have a unique ability to make ecological, social and political processes and relationships visible, tangible and accessible.
Visualizing Climate - Changing Futures?