Doug Barrett is an artist/graphic designer who thinks about the practices of commuting, rural spaces, agricultural processes, and how local visual culture is created through marks left by man. He explores mapping and (re)presenting found text and imagery in a way that talks about the constructed place. Signage, billboards, graffiti, and ephemera point to the visual culture embedded in our surroundings. His interest in this constructed place is tied to my belief that the spaces we use have a cultural impact on our world.
He is interested in collecting, documenting and exploring evidence of the interaction between people and geography by curating the evidence of commercial occupation. Specifically, by examining how the hand of man marks, sorts, portions, and divides the landscape through the everyday use of these spaces; and how evidence of this interaction are left on the land. Many of these marks are found in the form of roadside vectors, railroad spurs, plowing, fencing, planting, and other traces of human interaction on the rural landscape.
Barrett's objective is to create visible connections between material culture, place, and the inhabitants that create them. This visual narrative is informed by extensive collection, research, semiotics, mapping and personal exploration. Through the mode of “designer as author,” he creates a visual space that uses the powerful ability of images and local ephemera to tell a reflexive story in a visually poetic way.
This work is collected and ordered in three ways; reflexive, historic and emotive. Reflexively through evidence of the hand or body directly on the landscape, historically through commercial signage and rural processes, and the emotive heritage of the southern landscape.
Barrett is influenced by a wide-range of artists and writers. He is inspired by the work of Julie Mehretu, William Anastasi, Eugene Atget, Gaston Bachelard and Michel de Certeau. This inspiration comes from a shared experience of documenting something that is lost. As a southern artist, working in Alabama, Barrett is surrounded by spaces that are imbued with feelings of loss, nostalgia, regret and longing. The evidence he collects and records is ephemeral in nature and the abandoned condition in which many of these marks are found, confirm and expound the damaged narrative of the southern condition.