This is about a three-day voyage into visual aspects of spatial relations. In May 2004, seven doctoral candidates in geography from The Open University teamed up with staff and students from the Geography Department at Humboldt University to probe the theme of 'visual methodology' as a tool for geographical inquiry. The urban setting of Berlin acted as field and classroom for a series of linked workshops.

In designing the three-day course, we agreed on an experimental approach that would encourage a creative and diverse use of visual materials. Our 'experiment' also took advantage of the different levels of access and kinds of relations that organisers and participants had to Berlin spaces. Residents and frequent visitors to Berlin worked alongside first-time visitors and those with former connections to the city.

Four themes were explored in workshops:

> Visual Aspects of Affluence and Poverty: Objects, Representations and Geographical Discourse on Localities

> Documenting ‘Obscure Places’: Potentialities and Limits to Visual Methodologies in Geographical Knowledge Production

> Encountering Memory: Museum, City, Self

> Visuality of Lifestyles : Mapping Lifestyles – The Visible and The Hidden

Papers from Gillian Rose (OU) on "Place and Encounter : Visual Culture’s Geographies" and Franz-Josef Kemper (HU) giving "Some Remarks on the Tradition of Visuality in German Geography" as well as a film presentation by the visual anthropologist Martin Gruber (University of Hamburg) accompanied the introduction into theories of the visual. Many thanks to them.

The presentation of the material collected on the field day, re-organised and brought into sequence within the logics of powerpoint software, was followed by a concluding debate about apparent tensions between theory and praxis. Particular emphasis was placed on the potentials, limits, and possible deceptions that visual methods present for knowledge production in the social sciences.

picture: << this is your world... >>
graffiti found in Johannisthal (East-Berlin)