|The description and interpretation of visual images in order to disclose and interpret their hidden or symbolic meanings. Iconography was initially applied to religious icons and painted images, and theorized as a methodology within Renaissance art history by the cultural historian Erwin Panofsky. Its impact on geographical study was limited (but cf. Gottman, 1952) until iconography was promoted as a method of landscape and cartographic interpretation in cultural geography by Daniels and Cosgrove (1988). Landscapes, both on the ground and in their representation through various media such as maps, painting and photography, are regarded as deposits of cultural meanings. The iconographic method seeks to address these meanings through describing the form, composition and content of such representations, disclosing their symbolism, and interpreting the significances and implications of that symbolism by re-immersing landscapes into their social and historical contexts. Successful iconographic interpretation requires close formal reading, broad contextual knowledge, interpretative sensitivity and persuasive writing skills; it reveals human landscapes as both shaped by and themselves active in shaping broader social and cultural processes, and thus possessed of powerful human significance. Geographical iconography today accepts that landscape meanings are unstable over time and between different groups, always negotiated, and political in the broadest sense. This is exemplified by a significant body of work on landscape images and national or local identities produced by geographers in the early 1990s, (see, e.g., Daniels, 1993; Schama, 1995). See also art, geography and.Â (DEC)
References Daniels S. 1993: Fields of vision: landscape imagery and national identity in England and the United States. Cambridge: Polity.Â Daniels, S. and Cosgrove, D. 1988: Iconography and landscape. In D. Cosgrove and S. Daniels, eds, The iconography of landscape: essays on the representation design and use of past environments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1-10.Â Gottmann, J. 1952: La politique des Ã©tats et leur gÃ©ographie. Paris: Armand Colin.Â Schama, S. 1995: Landscape and memory. London: HarperCollins.