Graphic commons: Tunnel and peripheral vision

Distance: 3.7 miles
Steps: 8113
Start: 06:25
Ground covered: Feeder roads into and out of Ipswich town centre; pedestrianised shopping precincts; town centre.


It has been a while since I last did a dedicated graphic commons walk; 2017 in fact. More recent graphic commons posts have mainly been about walks taken as part of other activities. This reengagement is due to the resurrection of a graphic commons project that was put on-hold a few years ago—that of a series of publications dedicated to specific categories of the commons as I see them. The other commitments that took precedent over that project have now been completed, and it seems like a good time to jump back in. I will post more news here soon as it develops, but for now, here is a more generalised document of yesterday’s dérive.


The walk’s territory is very familiar to me, and picks up from two I conducted in 2016, peripheral visions and dérive of convenience. Although the walk was specifically to record more convenience store window displays, of which I got plenty, other categories presented themselves to me, with abundance: vinyl banners, telephone booth adverts, fly posters, etc. Ipswich, it appears, is the graphic commons gift that keeps on giving. While the delivery mechanisms themselves hadn’t changed much, some of the graphics had.


I deliberately chose very early on a Sunday morning as I thought there wouldn’t be many people around, and aside from a flurry of cars around 06:40, there weren’t. While this did mean I pretty much had the streets to myself, the shops I wanted to capture looked lifeless as if they were permanently shut down. Maybe it is something to do with the blanket window coverings looking as if they are boarded up and covered in concert fly posters.


The quietness of these scenes gave me the space to contemplate how convenience store windows are simply less-graphically sophisticated versions of the fashion brand displays in some of the town centre department store windows, such as Debenhams, and more mainstream national food outlets, such as Iceland. In their blanket vinyl coverings, they are doing exactly the same as the ‘little and often’ corner shops, and with the same overwhelming and dominating impact on the visual environment.


The walk was a success from the project’s point of view and I now have enough material to launch the first in a series of publications. I will be mainly be working on that prior to the new academic year starting, but once launched, I will then start writing and designing the follow-up and expect to be conducting more walks to feed into that.


Appropriately, Scott Walker featured heavily on shuffle.

iPhone shuffle selection
Teleman – Somebody’s Island
Lord Creator – Don’t Stay Out Late
Scott Walker – Joanna
Lankum – What Will We Do When We Have No Money?
Cat Power – Free
The Comet Is Coming – Birth Of Creation
The Ragga Twins – Ragga Trip
Scott Walker – Epizootics
Scott Walker + Sunn O))) – Herod 2014
Shellac – Mayor / Surveyor
The Uniques – A Yuh
Brian Eno – Driving Me Backwards
Matthew Herbert – Cheekbone
The Unthanks – Hawthorn
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Blackbeard Re-vision
Tune Yards – Doorstep
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie Lowell
Thee Oh Sees – Spider Cider
Jimmy Riley – Sweets For My Sweet

Published by Nigel Ball

Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design

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