Speaking in Agritectures – inspiration from illustrator Alan Snow

When I last met with Antonino, we discussed the importance of beginning to make a visual case for each of the different leads I encounter. This is part of the research that I can pursue without the Ethical Review having taken place, as it would involve a desk study of information in the public domain, accessible via the internet and a visual recounting or analysis of what I can see. Since the onset of this research I’ve been concerned with how I communicate visually – as one of my aims for this time working on my PhD is in developing a visual communication style for my thinking.

I am imagining looking at images of a project, and mapping the elements – and finding a way to share what I’m honing in on. And that eventually through the grounded theory work – I might via my own developing theoretical-sensitivity become more alert to the elements I need to be seeing.

What I envisage are – these kinds of exploded diagrams that you get of machines. For example this is a diagram I drew for a architect-led aquaponic scheme in London: you can see I’ve tried to zoom in on elements of the scheme to show the type of plumbing fixtures required.


The work of Bristol based illustrator Alan Snow immediately springs to mind. First with his book “speed birds” in which Crows discover a vehicle workshop next to a salt lake. Inside they find plans and blueprints for a fast car, which they build and become the fastest birds on earth.


Snow’s curiosity and love for sharing how things work seems to be behind a lot of his work. I note his children’s books with titles along the lines of “How do dogs really work?” or “How do pirates really work?“… with delirious illustrations positing fabulous suggestions as to how the things are working…


In his adult-aimed work, Snow is a meticulous recorder and curator of processes, tools and devices. Snow’s kitchenalia is where I’m looking  for inspiration on how I might explain the processes, tools and devices of agritecture in such a way that renders them useful to those who desire to employ them in their schemes.


I really appreciate the way that for a device, used to undertake a process – for example here looking at hobs or coffee roasters – Snow manages to present different versions of the device, and how their use varies, whilst being tasked to the same end.


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In a sense it’s this that I would like to be able to replicate whilst gathering leads for deeper research – looking at images of these agritectures, starting to pull out the tools, processes, devices. Generating a sort of database of what these projects are using to do what. Then using the grounded theory work to connect these parts into an explanatory scheme through patterns, themes, and how they interconnect.