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CECAN Fellow: Joanna Boehnert

CECAN Fellowship: The Visual Representation of Complex Systems: A Typology of Visual Codes for Systemic Relations

Mentors: Alex Penn, Pete Barbrook-Johnson, Martha Bicket

This fellowship responds to a CECAN call for proposals on the visual representation of key features of complex systems. The practice-based research project will use systems oriented design and knowledge visualisation approaches to enable the identification, classification and design of visual codes to represent complexity.

Sustainability practitioners have long relied on the use of images to display relationships in complex adaptive systems on various scales and across different domains. Visual representations play an important role in facilitating communication, learning and collaboration on social, environmental and economic issues that are characterised as complex systems. This research addresses the need for more effective visual representations of the key features of complexity. With the creation of ‘A Typology of Visual Codes for Systemic Relations’ the project will address the need for images that are widely understood across different fields and sectors in order to facilitate conversations and decisions making between researchers, policy makers, practitioners and evaluators (with varying degrees of familiarity with complexity science).

Dr. Joanna Boehnert is a communication design practitioner and theorist with expertise on the visual communication of complex environmental problems, environmental learning and the politics of ecological transitions. Her first book Design/ Ecology/ Politics: Toward the Ecocene will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in early 2018. Her theoretical work is situated at the intersection of design, communication, sociology and geography. After her AHRC funded PhD at the University of Brighton (2012) she accepted a CIRES Visiting Fellowship at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 2015 she moved back to the UK for a two-year contract as Research Fellow in Design at CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media) at the University of Westminster.

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