Design Epistemology









Graphicality: why is there not such a word? 

Robert Harland, David Craib

Loughborough University, Carleton University

Keywords: graphicality, literary theory, cognitive science, textual studies


The concept of graphicality first appeared in the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Taking its title from Poe’s painterly metaphor, this paper seeks to understand how graphicality may inform aspects of design thinking that have been neglected. We explore the current use, origins and aspects of graphicality, and contextualise it in some real world scenarios to reaffirm how we live in a graphic age, and how graphicality must be better understood in the way we comprehend other displays of human ability, such as musicality. Poe provides us with a starting point for relating the physical and mental domains of image interpretation. Graphicality is shown to work on a continuum between subjectivity and objectivity, not as something to be measured but appreciated in how it enhances understanding and knowledge. This has implications for many academic disciplines, specifically in how it enhances our appreciation of the graphic in graphic design. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: Harland, R., Craib, D. (2016). Graphicality: Why is there not such a word? Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

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