Mapping – Research

I looked at the way designers approach mapping, to help me understand how I might approach mapping in my work.

I look at this webpage about creative mapping & visualisation techniques.

Why do we present data in a visual way?

When we display our data visually it is much easier to extract meaningful patterns and information that would otherwise be indecipherable in numbers, and this in turn allows us to develop conclusions and make informed design decisions. Not only does this display of data help us with our designs, it can also demonstrate information to a client more clearly, helping them to understand the root of our design decisions and allowing them to engage with the design process from an early stage.”

Graphing where people run
Organised crime in Northern Italy

Stephen Willats

Stephen Willats is a British artist. His work explores the role of art in society.

His work has involved interdisciplinary processes and theory from sociology, systems analysis, cybernetics, semiotics and philosophy.

His use of framing in the above image, draws the viewer’s attention to elements of a scene.

The zig-zagging line in the image below connects the 4 photos. It takes the viewer on a journey of place or time or both. The layout makes the map easy to read because the images are stacked one on top of the other in 2 layers.

This piece looks like a diagram. The black and white adds to the work’s readability. The symmetrical layout gives the piece a sense of order.

Living with Practical Realities 1978 Stephen Willats born 1943 Purchased 1981

Across three panels, Stephen Willats explores the realities of living in a 1970s British tower block. The work centres on Mrs Moran, an elderly woman who lived at Skeffington Court in Hayes, West London. Willats photographed and interviewed Mrs Moran over the course of six months. The text in the work is based on these interviews. In his composition, Willats highlights the physical, social, and economic constraints that Mrs Moran experienced. Each panel also features a question. These invite the viewer to participate directly in Mrs Moran’s lived experiences.

‘Created by a group of artists and group of actors and expresses transience and fluidity. The idea of complexity, of relativity and authorship.’

In this work, he uses line to connect ideas visually. The separate moments would otherwise not be connected. The order of the images is then important to the meaning of the sign. Changing the order would change the connections between these visual thoughts. We could be looking at a narrative mapped out like in a storyboard. It is up to the viewer to piece together what the map is signifying.

The labels at the bottom of the artwork describe different sounds. We can then connect this upwards. The labels are indicators but do not tell the whole story.

Forensic Architecture

Foresenic Architecture is an interdisciplinary team that includes architects, filmmakers, lawyers and scientists. Their work uses the built environment as a starting point for explorations into human rights violations. Forensic Architecture | Tate

Forensic Architecture has worked closely with communities affected by acts of social and political violence, alongside NGOs, human rights groups, activists, and media organisations. Their investigations have provided decisive evidence in a number of legal cases, and contested accounts given by state authorities, leading to military, parliamentary and UN inquiries.


Their work illustrates crimes that have taken place. The agency open investigations and work from these investigations are presented in their exhibitions. Their work raises questions about technology, political issues and history. They take advantage of digital methods such as satellite imaging and digital recording. Through their work, they share truths with the world that people have a right to know.

They transform data into large expressive imagery:

Counter Investigations, 2018

They read buildings to understand what has taken place. For example, reading the ruins of a building that has been destroyed. They examine these events from multiple perspectives. This image maps out the events from one of their investigations:

Reporting from the front was an exhibition displaying accounts from people who were sharing their experiences of different events.

Reporting from the front, 2016

Ball Wall Clock

Ball wall clock by George Nelson at The Design Museum in London

My chosen object from the museum’s Designer Maker User collection is the Ball wall clock. I chose it based on my initial feeling towards it, (delight, surprise, impressed), and the conflict with what I disliked about it. (functionality).

I wrote about the object in a stream of consciousness style:

Ball Wall Clock, 1947 designed by George Nelson manufactured by Vitra

The clock is on a white wall, surrounded by other elements of time. Watches, digital clocks, Filofaxs and other instruments to mark the time. Amongst these objects the clock stands out. At the highest point of the wall in the corner, somehow alone because it doesn’t blend in, because it is different, it is unique.

The shape is what first strikes you. It’s a clock but not in the way I’ve seen a clock before. The colours are fun, the shapes are unexpected. I immediately liked it, I was immediately impressed by it but I think I would be frustrated if I needed to use it to tell the time. My preferred method to tell the time is to ask Alexa because I get an immediate response. I hear a voice telling me without me needing to look at anything and interpret a number or code. For me, it feels like figuring out a puzzle, which seems long and unnecessary.

I’m aware that we all see things differently, experience life differently. Our abilities vary. Telling the time must vary as well. A digital 24-hour clock is another favourite of mine that I’ve got used to from using it repetitively. It’s reliable and if it’s connected to the Internet, even better because I don’t need to change batteries and I don’t need to question if the time is right because I know it’s right. I used to have a watch when I was 7, it had dolphins on it. I liked it because the strap was denim, I felt like that was quite different. It was round and this clock at the museum also follows the traditional design of being round, but it’s rounder than round because of the ball shapes. Circles are round and a globe is completely round, spherical and that’s what this clock has.

It relies on an understanding, as many clocks do, that the viewer will know what each mark stands for. I don’t like this it’s too clever it’s almost pretentious.

You say quarter to nine. These are words. They also represent numbers, the numbers look like something and they symbolise something. To add shape and position to the equation is a further complication I can’t see necessary. These clocks remind me of going back to the times with sundials. You don’t need those any more. Of course, when this clock came out, they didn’t have digital. Digital anything. Life was different then, but they still had beautiful things. I know that by looking at this piece. This object that I saw amongst lots of other objects. It doesn’t have just one association to me and it doesn’t have just one use. To look interesting is one use (that’s why I like it). To tell the time is another use and that is something it doesn’t do any more because it’s in the museum. You can buy these clocks at John Lewis. Obviously they are not original, but near enough. I believe they are even made from the same materials. Where would you hang a clock like this? As well as being bold it is quite big. It makes a statement.

It was difficult to take a photo of the clock, because it was too high up on the wall. In fact there was nothing above it but the ceiling. What I find really interesting, which I didn’t notice at first, is that the colours are random. This clock doesn’t want to indicate numbers at all. It doesn’t want to make it easy for us to tell the time by having a different coloured balls to represent each number. Though this could be an advantage in some ways. If you have had this clock for a while, you could get used to the fact that 3 is green, 11 is green, so a quick glance at the clock might mean that you are eventually taking notice of the colours and the associations might actually help.

The centre of the clock being white means that against the white wall, the middle seems to disappear and many walls do happen to be white. The average wall.

The shadows created give us a second ring of circles.

I didn’t notice the clock in my first walk around the museum because it was so high up. It wasn’t until my second walk around that I spotted it and it surprised me. Wouldn’t it surprise you?

I then used the pointers I wrote to prompt me when reflecting on the object. I searched the internet to find out a bit about the clock. This helped me to get a fuller picture of the object.

I prepared 2 slides for this week’s lecture. I included a full picture of the clock, the clock in context on the wall and a close-up photo of the clock that I found on the internet. I could not take a close-up photo of the clock due to its placement in the exhibition.

Slide 1
Slide 2

In this week’s lecture we had the opportunity to speak about our chosen object. I was surprised to see that only 2 people had chosen the same object.

We were prompted to consider where our object was placed within the exhibition and what effect this had.

The class shared that the exhibition was separated into 3 categories: Designer, Maker and User. I had to admit that I did not notice this when visiting the exhibition. I noticed the different areas divided by partitions but did not make any connection to designer maker or user in these areas. I did not feel I could read the plaques of information because of time restrictions. I looked again at the plan of the floor and realised that I had entered the exhibition from the ‘finish’ point:

This means my object belongs to the ‘Maker’ section.

(Designer Maker User wall designed by Studio Myerscough.)

Talking about my object

When introducing my object to the class, I spoke about:

  • The clock is not user friendly if people cannot read it.
  • The clock is most likely made for the home since it is aesthetically pleasing/fun but not the most functional.
  • The design resembles atoms. It was made in 1947, shortly before the space age. In 1946, the first photos were taken from space.
  • His other clocks are spikey/star-like which also tie in with this theme.
Image of an atom.
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The Presentation

I want to approach my presentation as if I am introducing my object to the class for the first time, and as if they had not seen the exhibition for themselves.

Including my image of the clock in context is important because it places the viewer in my shoes. They then have the chance to see the object in the way I first saw it on the wall, which is part of my experience of perceiving the object. I can talk about the effect of seeing the clock amongst other time keeping objects.

I can start the presentation with a photo of the museum and then include photos of entering the building and the exhibition. This also adds context when presenting the clock. If I then zoom further into the object, I can start to talk about the materials used.

The idea is to build up layers of information. Talking about the history of the object is one layer. I want to bring out pieces of information that the audience would not be already aware of.

Production of ball wall clock

This video shows how the ball wall clock is made by hand. The video was posted this year, (2021) therefore we can assume the clocks are still made this way. The fact they are handmade would make them more valuable. They are currently being sold for £269.

See how the George Nelson Wall Clock Collection is made for Vitra – YouTube

The clocks are now sold in different colours from plain wood to orange, red, yellow and black. The black ball wall clock was released in 2008, 22 years after George Nelson’s death. It might have more appeal to a modern audience because the bright colours can be seen as quirky or even childish as one classmate commented. The black version of the clock captures the iconic shape but adds a contemporary twist that makes it look more elegant and appropriate for corporate settings perhaps.

Buy the Vitra Ball Wall Clock at

Screen-printing & Gestalt Theory

The Gestalt Principles | Basics for Beginners – YouTube

I was curious to learn about Gestalt theory, as I had heard of it but didn’t understand what it was about. This video from YouTube, was the most helpful resource I could find to explain the theory to me. In the video he explains how when we look at a picture, we perceive the elements as one image, even though a picture is made up of separate pieces.

From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers

Some Examples:

Gestalt theory Proximity.

In this artwork by Emma Davis, the elements are placed closely together. This means they are perceived as a group:

Gestalt theory Figure & Ground.

In this screen print by Heretic Spectral Nation, there is a play between the green and pink spaces. It is not obvious which is the figure and which is the ground. This is interesting because they could be interchangable.

In this book, John Bowers talks about visual language. I found this theory helpful when considering my screen-printing designs.
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers

In the first half of semester 1, I have been experimenting with abstract geometric shapes.

From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers

Yesterday, I spent my morning in the printing studio. (The perfect way to spend a Thursday morning). I felt a bit more comfortable with the technique and decided to take more control in this session. To take risks and try to create more of what is in my mind, onto paper. First, I wanted to cover the damage done to my print from the drying rack last week. My plan was to create a layered effect. I was happy for this design to look quite busy. In the photo below, the print has 3 layers.

I had the idea of using scrap paper to protect the border of my print. I had this idea because of my previous print where the grid design came off of the background square. This was due to poor planning.

I used a rusty-brown colour to cover the tear. I was happy with the result. I also chose this colour to mix nicely with the background and unify the print as a whole. I liked the areas where the layers have some cross over.

I placed the artwork I wanted to use, over the print. This allowed me to see how best I could include the shapes into the composition.
I used a hairdryer to speed up the drying process.
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers

In this piece, I have used harmonious colours for each layer, apart from the green layer. This helps to add interest to the image. For the darkest brown I used a mixture of orange and green, since orange and green make brown.

I can see active space within the design, because of the irregular shapes and transparency of the layers.

The values in this image are also quite similar.

I again used masking to protect the areas of the background I want to avoid printing on.

I chose purple and green for the second layer of this print. I wanted to create some variation, while sticking to the pink area of the colour wheel.

I placed blobs of ink onto the screen quite randomly. I flooded the screen before doing my first pull.

I positioned the print at the corner of the page. This position suggests that the design carries on beyond the frame, as explained below:

From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers

Another example of this effect:

 Print Garage: Concentricity i
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers

I wanted to play with scale within this design. For my third print layer, I chose the large circle design. Positioning it in the opposite corner, creates asymmetrical balance within the work.

At this stage, I made the mistake of forgetting to tighten the bolts on the printing machine/vice. This meant that the frame shifted as I was pulling the ink through. This created blurred lines on my print. It also meant that my print went off the edge of the background. Because of this mistake, I decided to print a fourth layer using a darker green.

The lines within my print run vertically and horizontally. Where they cross over, there is an interesting gridded pattern.

Example of playing with scale:

Print Garage: Mystic Brew

Here, the designer has placed a large circle that dominates the space. The other elements are dwarfed by it in comparison.

In this artwork by Heretic Spectral Nation, we can see the crossing over of lines. This shows the interesting effects created by layering up striped prints. This gave me the idea to play with the direction of my lines when printing multiple layers.

I felt that there was something lacking in this print from last week. I thought about how I could unify the elements.

From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers

Example of a grid unifying an image:

Because of the right-angles within my design, I chose to use the grid pattern for the fourth layer:

This print would be symmetrical if it wasn’t for the blue shapes.

Because the grey shapes are similar and they are of the same colour, they look as though they belong to a group. This is the Gestalt theory known as similarity.

There is a contrast of sharp and round, and a contrast of light and dark within this piece.

From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers
From the book Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design by John Bowers