Mitch Miller: Showman's yard (2012)
MILLER, M. (2013). Illustrating space as collaborative, socially engaged practice: The first report from the DRAW DUKE STREET residency. VaroomLab (2) p 24-40
Mitch Miller is a PhD student at Glasgow School of Art, and an illustrator. His paper’ draw Duke Street’ was presented as part of the VaroomLab symposium, ‘Spacialising Illustration’ in January 2013.
The intended audience are students, illustrators, academics and the residents of Duke Street.
The Draw Duke Street project is a socially engaged documentary drawing project, set in an underprivileged area of Glasgow. This paper is a report on the processes involved and to test and develop a methodology. Can a ‘Dialectogram’ fit a socially engaged model of work?
A Dialectogram (a term coined by Miller) is a combination of plan, diagram, text and drawings, Miller has a background in social anthropology and identifies himself as an ethnographer. He chooses subjects that are commonly overlooked, misunderstood or are in an area undergoing change.The Duke Street residents are a carnival community.
Draw Duke Street is a collaborative project where the subjects themselves generate the content; a mix of stories, memories and fact, which can take weeks and months to collect. The multimodal use of text and image is not explicitly mentioned, but the text is used for documentary detail and authenticity (over 30 hours of interviews were conducted). Miller describes the work of the Reportager group, and Olivier Kugler, Julien Malland and Joe Sacco, as also working in an ethnographic tradition.
Miller also candidly documents the many problems associated with public collaboration. He reaches the conclusion that awareness of the area was raised despite the impossible deadline, and despite the difficulty of working with the input of so many people, and with so much information. It was also a successful test of the methodology and helped him to prepare for his subsequent case test in Govan, Glasgow.
The paper is useful in that it clearly documents problems associated with collaborative work, and offers suggestions for improvement. It sets out a clear methodology and is honest about the potential and real pitfalls. In my own project, I am gathering personal testimonies and narratives through interview so Miller’s methodology is relevant to the work I am doing. He has also gathered his information- a mix of fact and fiction, from multiple sources and used text, drawing, data and diagram to communicate the whole picture.
MILLER, M. (2013) Glasgow dialectograms, drawing a disappearing city. [online]
Available at: https://dialectogram.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 17 December 2016]