Visualizing Visualizations

For our last project in Visual Rhetorics, we were to create a missing chapter on rhetoric for Alberto Cairo’s The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualizations in a style that matched that of the text. I was really excited by this project, and decided to create a visualization on creating visualizations as a sort of pull out poster that would come between Parts II (“Cognition”) and III (“Practice”) that made visible theory as method and invention through visualization. I did outside reading on invention from John Muckelbauer’s Invention and the Future: Rhetoric, Postmodernism, and the Problem of Change, Johanna Drucker’s Graphesis, Karen LeFevre’s Invention as a Social Action, and Janice Lauer’s Invention and Rhetoric and Composition – none of which made it on to my infographic. What I quickly determined was that creating infographics are difficult, and creating and infographic about infographics seemed beyond my ability. The poster field began as all text, an obvious problem for something that’s supposed to operate as a visual. I kept re-drawing my layout for the infographic until I couldn’t remember what my scope was. I drew it on paper, on a posterboard, and finally my bathroom wall (in pencil). That design started the creation of the infographic elements, but proved insufficient. After several more drawings, I felt like I had a too reduced representation of invention, theory, and method. If creating icons for this graphic wasn’t difficult enough, even sticking to the basic shapes I used to create my symbols, establishing a relationship and organization amongst them felt impossible. This was probably one of the coolest assignments of my graduate program, and the last one I will turn in, so creating something lame despite my energy and efforts feels…well, lame. Lesson learned: infographics need several weeks after being created to assess that they are functioning as designed. I feel like all of the planning I did, while not useless, did little for me in comparison to creating and playing around with elements in the making of the infographic. Even though it’s been submitted, I would like to return to this one over the weekend. I am absolutely determined to make it work.

I will have nightmares about the voids between my elements…

Cairo Chapter