Invention of the… what?

Dialectograms are large, highly detailed drawings of places, taken from the perspective of those who live and work there, and the person who tries to interpret those perspectives (me). I have been working on dialectograms in various parts of Glasgow since 2009.  I collaborate closely with residents, employees, owners, squatters punters and users of interesting spaces in Glasgow. From interviews, photographs, sketches and architectural plans, I try to get as much data about a placed into the drawing as possible. I invent symbols and signs to suit each dialectogram, honing and redoing the image until it begins to resemble something the people who know it best, will recognise.

I draw each dialectogram directly onto a white A0 mountboard which, after being scanned is offered to Glasgow museums for their collection. A high quality limited edition digital print is given participants in the process.

Glasgow Dialectograms explore the use of illustration as record, information as art.  Superficially a pastiche of scientific, anthropological and architectural illustrations, dialectograms comment upon contemporary city spaces, public, private and personal, through creating an extremely detailed schematic of a place that condenses and includes both subjective and objective information into a single piece. They show facts, thoughts and feelings. They use a deliberately loose and organic ‘anti-architectural’ drawing style to describe not just what it is there, but who uses it, what a particular space means to someone, and how relationships between people shape their environment.Terms have been invented for this kind of thing such as  ‘Psycho-Geography’ (although I much prefer  the more open and broad-minded sister discipline, ‘Mytho-geography’). Put simply, they are made by talking to people, sharing ideas and processing them into visual forms – a diagram, a dialogue, a dialectic, but also a dialect of technical drawing – hence, Dialectogram.

I am particularly interested in ‘doomed’, marginal, hidden and unusual places in Glasgow (although I’d love to draw somewhere such as Glasgow Cathedral one day) and this blog will document my attempts to draw them, beginning with the iconic flats at Red Road. I like to look into the surprising secrets that everyday places protect – Doomster Hill in Govan, for example, was once an ancient ‘moot hill’, a fortification, and a major site in Early Scottish Christianity. It currently operates as a makeshift carpark. In Dalmarnock, a warren of old yards, parking lots and derelict factories is home to a large part of Glasgow’s large, and thriving community of Travelling Showpeople, who use them as winter yards. Overall, I am just interested in the shape and system behind everyday life in this city – as the physicists describe, multiple mini-universes living side by side, or even one inside the other.