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Visual Metaphors and Shared Understanding in the Graphic Representations of the Abstract Concept of Knowledge

Fri, May 26, 11:00 to 12:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 4, Sapphire 400A


What does knowledge look like? is an interdisciplinary study of how individuals understand and communicate what they think knowledge looks like through drawings. The primary objective of the research was to capture visual constructs of abstract or complex concepts, using knowledge as a case study. Over 1300 drawings across five different sites were collected and analyzed for shared visual languages constructed through the use of pictorial depiction. Engelhardt’s (2002) typology of graphic representations types was used to categorize all the drawings, and individual graphic objects were identified and coded. Two of the most popular graphic objects identified, brains and light bulbs, are symbolic in relation to knowledge and highlight a metaphoric correspondence. This paper explores the ways in which graphic objects used to draw knowledge illustrate visual correlation metaphors that offer a comparison between what is drawn and what is meant for developing shared meaning.