ABSTRACT Digital visualizations of abstract data are ubiquitous in contemporary culture. Forms such as infographics, data visualizations, and visual narratives are conceived and produced with an intent to represent statistical information and clarify certain arguments. Much has been written about the visual languages shared by these artifacts as well as the parallel applications in architecture. The adoption and employment of digital visualization methods in the pedagogy for architectural history, however, remain understudied. Neither has what distinguishes the use of visualization in the teaching of architectural history from that in architectural practice been adequately explained. This paper thus discusses the contemporary practice of “image-making” within the discipline of architecture and examines the commonly used digital visualization pedagogies for architectural history. By presenting a series of diagrammatic maps completed by the students of the author in the past few years with various hands-on visualization techniques, the paper demonstrates that digital visualization is an effective tool to familiarize students with the content in architectural history. The paper also shows that digital visualization is equally effective for research for it can untangle complex relationships among buildings or architects in history and reveal the underlying structures or “signatures” of particular phenomena or movements in architectural history. The paper further argues that the key technique to the digital visualization pedagogy for architectural history is to produce maps that are non-representational or “indexical”—meaning the maps or diagrams are directly connected with the objects, making organic pairs free from the interpreting mind—rather than those that have been understood as “symbolic”—meaning they operate through an arbitrary, imposed visual languages based on convention—or “iconic”—meaning the representations bear direct resemblances with objects or phenomena.

Posted by:Liyang DING

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