Russell Evans


Russell Evans Title: Diagrams of Disturbance: conceptual diagrams and the production of a personal diagram poetry. This thesis is a pursuit of a personal diagram poetry, with a submission of part creative work, part critical exploration of selected diagram poetry over the past 50 years. I examine my own work and that of pioneering diagram poet Jim Rosenberg as variations of the conceptual diagram, and explore wider examples in the work of contemporary visual poets, arriving at a diagrammatics that creates systems of thought from modalities of materiality, spatiality and iconography. I follow Foucault and Deleuze’s pursuit of the diagram as a paradigmatic system, tracing its properties and potentialities in the social field but extract my own version of it, arising from exploration of the philosophical roots of the diagram. I apply DeLanda’s realist critique of the diagram, moving it towards the concept of the assemblage and positioning the diagram as an episode of relational interactions that affect surroundings rather than statically record them. Both text and icon as language systems are probed as structures and as signifiers through close application of post-structuralism as the most rigorous interrogation of language’s structures. The resulting creative work assumes a position in the gap between the textual and the visual to seek Drucker’s ‘semantic chords’ in a retinal-cognitive collusion of word and image. I merge the visual exteriority of classifications, visual iconography, and associated graphic language, with the interiority of a personal vocabulary, mediated through what I term ‘diagrams of disturbance’ which seek to destabilise cognition with both the form they take and their challenging subject matter. I use models from the hard sciences to examine the abstract properties of the diagram, while seeking a common ground between word and icon in cognitive linguistics of Lakoff, and seeking underlying structures of diagram poetry in the application of information theory. Arising from the competing elements of word and icon the two halves of the research emerge as both a development of my own diagram poetry and a critical inquiry into diagram poetry as a form.

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