Aside from the required fovea assignments in ENGL 527, I chose the option to make three additional projects in the “freeform bundle” that played with concepts of visual rhetorics we discussed in the course. I created an exploded diagram of sorts recipe for the perfect huevos rancheros (food for the eyes) that emphasized image over alphanumeric text, a vintage postcard inspired image to post to EM—Journal’s website for the summer until our next issue, and a visualization portraying a poll that ranks the best Star Trek Captain by fans. PDFs followed by screenshots:
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…
For class this week, we were to create our own “four icon challenge” (see here: Alan Levine) – a visual representation of a film reduced to its elements through four icons (see here: Kyle Tezak). Choosing a film was difficult; I wanted to make a representation of one I liked that wouldn’t be too obscure.( I did this in class with my students as a quick design challenge with The Princess Bride, but thought that would be too easy for class.) This was another product of Inkscape (which is proving to be an awesome program for the price – free!), and while it looks simple, quite a bit of care was given to make it appear as such. Each of these icons was of different dimensions, and it took quite a bit of moving the elements around to notice that they would look more uniform if they were all the same height to appear square. Because each icon was an individual element and of an off-white background, the dropper tool was used to match the space in between and around the icons all to the same shade of white. For the blue gel on the spotlight I filled the bulb area, added a glow effect, and blended the edges to give the appearance of illumination. Again, nothing fantastic, but if makes me think of the blue filters used in movies to suggest the light of the nighttime sky. I contemplated coloring in the label of the beer bottle, but it proved rather difficult to execute with precision, and further, the prevailing black and white with only a small use of color seemed more effective/evocative of my choice of film.
Can you guess what my movie is?
Answer (highlight for reveal): Blue Velvet
For class this week, we were to select a quote that was meaningful to us, and create a visual articulation/translation of it using any techniques we have discussed this semester related to document design, photo manipulation, data visualization or information graphics.
Using Inkscape, I created a photo manipulation of an image I came across from CERN (via the lectures of David Tong) in writing a blog post on quantum field theory and disicplinarity, and combined it with a quote from Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, a text I returned to that served as catalyst for some of my early work in grad school/my first conference presentation on fluxus and page tectonics. While I don’t align with McLuhan heavily, he has touched the work of scholars I am deeply interested in composition, visual rhetoric, and new media studies.
After resizing and flipping the image to create a space for text alignment, I added a filter and experimented with font I thought represented McLuhan’s words in a style that honored his work/message, while also communicating my own. The layout of the text on the image was the most difficult part of designing this, and ultimately, I’m uncertain as to whether I find this satisfactory or not. I’m not sure the spacing, or even the layout as one column-esque shape, has the same effect as the break in the quote/phrase that McLuhan does over two pages of his text – it adds a pause that my spacing doesn’t seems to convey in the smaller break. As much as I played with the layout, I wasn’t satisfied with making the text fit the parameters of the image more fully; for example, I tried separating the text on the top and bottom half of the image (using the center as a sort of horizon) on alternating sides – left and right aligned. It’s something I would like to continue thinking about. The puzzlement over the text layout made me consider that the image could be root of the issue too – it spans beyond one side or the other, as well as the center, but doesn’t fill the field, leaving some white space, or in this case, black space (a black hole).
Part of the original text (re)presented:
Discussion Question: Johanna Drucker’s Graphesis
While I think that using icon/pictorial graphics can work around this with more ease, how can bar or line graphs (or the other forms Drucker mentions) be designed to be both aesthetically pleasing/intriguing and rhetorically effective? Can the design impact not only what information is communicated, but how it is read? What I mean is, I think graphs are associated with certain disciplines/topic matters and communicate certain information in a certain way that is more expected/formed (trying to avoid adjectives like “dull”, or thoughts of “skip this chunk of the reading” here…).
For class this week, I designed a typographic logo for my webspace/scholarship that attempts to brand (maybe?) technical composition. While I have played with font before, I haven’t really experimented with downloading fonts (why?) or used a design platform outside of PowerPoint. So while it’s nothing fancy, it’s my first creation in Inkscape trying my hand at visual rhetoric without an image to drive/set the visual.
This logo was my first experiment with Inkscape. It started as a mass download of fonts. Deciding on what would be cast in this font was difficult; I wanted to create something that I could use. Given my present position in life/school, I thought creating something for my personal webspace I’m building would not only be useful, but cool. I chose “technical composition” from my current scholarship and MA project, and from how I’m being defined/imagined in the field as my work circulates in conferences, campus visits, and web exchanges. Technical composition writ large (started as):
After choosing a font, I had the start of my design. What I found more generative though, was the material the concept afforded me semiotically – technical, as I am using the term, comes from the Greek techne, or craft. Visually, I thought this blends of with the word “technical” and “techne” was not only more novel, but actually served as more of a heuristic device for imagining an understanding of the concept as I am terming/conceptualizing it. From my research, techne has a certain relationship to assemblage – a composing of heterogeneous materials to form a composition (a dynamic whole). I attempted to illustrate this by constructing a composite line that comes together at the end.
After reading excerpts from Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen and Rebecca Hagen and Kim Golombisky’s White Space is Not Your Enemy, our goal was to “create a one-page layout with typographic variation that recasts a blog entry (or excerpt from a blog entry). The entry can come from any blog and any date. Your re-presentation of it should showcase type and spacing. Use only one color and not more than one image”. Given that this week is the Conference on College Composition and Communication (which I will follow via Twitter as my panel wasn’t accepted and I’m in between presenting at conferences – Networked Humanities and Computers and Writing – and low on fund$), I decided it would be fun to play with a portion of Collin Gifford Brooke’s post, 4Cs just not that into you?, on the rejections many scholars in digital rhetoric, new media, computers & ____________, rhetorical theory, etc. faced over the summer which brought into illumination/question the nature of the process by which conference proposals are accepted to the flagship conference of composition studies. While my document is simple, it plays with design elements of the College Composition and Communication journal, as well as the organization’s site.
While using Microsoft Word comes with some limitations (which may just be my lacking knowledge), I attempted to mimic the jumpquote style of the journal, the header/banner of the site, the font family of the site (Lucida), and some elements of the page layout of the journal.
[I feel as if I should claim fair use for using the trademark sun of CCC…Just a humble grad student experimenting with document design for class!]