The visual representation of time

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- This dissertation concerns the iconography of time, how time is represented visually by the visual aspects of time-measurement instruments and devices, and by diagrams and other graphics including calendars, diaries and planners. These representations of time sometimes reflect time itself in a primary way, directly, as in a clock face, a timer, or a calendar, and in other cases the iconography of time is secondary to other variables such as in an industrial process, a genealogical tree, or an evolutionary history. The study's goal was to describe how visual representations of time are constructed from various types of scales, symbols and other marks to create tools for solving different types of time-related problems. The study proceeded principally through the analysis of a large volume of cases, often historical. For specific cases, it asked: What is the purpose of this representation and for whom was it designed? What symbol sets, visual variables, reference points, and scale does it employ? What technology does it use? What are the technological and cognitive strengths and weaknesses of this representation in meeting human needs? Cases were selected from a range of sources including collections of historically-significant designs, journals and magazines considered to contain good designs, design texts, textbooks on topics relevant to this study, time-related electronic tools, timers on modern appliances, and recent calendars and planners. The following theoretical bases were chosen as appropriate for this dissertation because they affect representations of time in some fundamental way: (1) the representation of time in language; (2) the development of writing systems; (3) types of measurement scales; (4) mathematical systems that may have had some influence on the divisions of time used on many visual representations of time; and (5) the astronomical relationships that originally governed several measures of time in some cultures (e.g. the solar year, the lunar year, the month, and the day). The results show that several important systems repeatedly helped to shape the process of time representation such as celestial mechanics, mathematical systems, the growth of technical and mechanical competence and literacy, and above all perhaps the order imposed on our conceptions of time by linguistic systems. Another important insight is that in giving an account of the development and shape of time representations it is not meaning or form which in the end dominates the field, but these things under the direction of pragmatics, usage, and often the exercise of power.
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