Scholar Johanna Drucker and artist Matt Sheridan Smith conversed about the evidence of Katie Holmes’s secret Whole Foods entrance, Venn diagrams of third-rate hip hop, Athanasius Kircher’s 1669Ars Magna Sciendi, and other forms of visual knowledge production.
For several years, Drucker and Smith each investigated how affective dimensions can be visually diagrammed. How do some images produce knowledge while others only display information? How do the contingent texts and transient documents of digital environments change the way we read and interpret diagrams today? Drucker has drawn upon diverse fields of study—including semiotics, psychology, cartography, and art history—to develop a new, critical language for describing our increasingly screen-based and networked lives. Stemming from a longstanding interest in overlaps between narrative and abstraction, Smith’s previous solo exhibitions and forthcoming digital project for Triple Canopy deployed true lies and real history, charting a complex narrative around four mysterious characters: a Royal Air Force pilot, a Tour de France cyclist, a Grand Dame of Champagne, and a Hollywood actress.
With Triple Canopy, Drucker and Smith organized a twelve-person working group to conduct a series of diagramming experiments. The goal was to better understand how intuitive diagrammatic languages may or may not evolve to graph new experiences, and inform other diagrammatic conventions or systems. Drucker and Smith discussed the results of this session, as well as their related independent work, with Triple Canopy editors Molly Kleiman and Peter J. Russo.