Michael Whittle is an artist, lecturer and researcher in Diagrammatology, the study of diagrams. He originally qualified and trained as a biomedical scientist, before changing subject to study fine art. During his MA at the Royal College of Art he was awarded the 2004 RCA-Daler Rowney drawing prize, and a scholarship to study at Kyoto City University of Arts, where he later returned as a Japanese Government Monbusho scholar to write his PhD thesis ‘Romantic Objectivism: diagrammatic thought in contemporary art’.
The thesis proposes a new field of ‘Diagrammatic Art’ with deep philosophical, semiotic and aesthetic foundations. On submission it was awarded the 2014 Takeshi Umehara prize for outstanding doctoral research, and has been downloaded from the university’s online repository over 58,000 times in more than 25 different countries. In 2018 it was selected by Leonardo Abstract Service (LABS) for it’s peer reviewed top ten list of art-science research abstracts. Whittle exhibits and lecture internationally, and in 2018 made a five-week lecture tour of the UK, after which he was invited to give the 2018 ‘Pioneer Lecture’ at the London College of Communication, in celebration of pioneering research in visual art and design communication.
His studio practice draws directly on images, ideas and data found in scientific research papers, and discussions with scientists about the concepts and motivations underlying their studies. His recent project ‘Portraits of Thought: diagrams in art and science’ was selected by Mika Kuraya, chief curator at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, for a Terumo Foundation for Life Sciences and Art Grant, allowing him to spend time as artist in residence at the Centre for Advanced Studies at Kyoto University. Whittle is currently developing new work at the Asia Culture Centre (ACC) in Gwangju, South Korea, as part of its 2019 Art-Science residency program.