My Semester Made Visible

Last week in RCDH, Collin challenged us to visualize our semester. He left the form and content up to us. As I tend to do, I thought it would be interesting to look at it from the level of composites, allowing me to focus on different intensities through different lenses of focus.

From Tim Baker and Chris Shier’s gifmelter, I started with a gif that became an inside joke between Jason, Lindsey and myself after I used it as a response in a course last semester. Breaking the constraints of the gif (rectangle, perception based on timed loops), the image can be viewed differently. I think this particular iteration takes on new meaning at this scale (particularly poignant in its ability to be broken apart and pretty representative of this semester):



A significant event for me this semester was presenting (for the first time) at 4Cs. The panel I presented on was well received, but it also projected. These are ideas that are very much unsettled, active. Threads from this text network have been pulled, followed, and have connected me to other people/texts/ideas.

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Another significant event this semester was participating in THATCamp CNY. While I didn’t showcase/workshop anything, I was party to interesting tools, conversations, fruit trays, and distributed dh connections across the campus. I wanted to do something with my tweets to reconstruct the events of those two days, as well as account for the retweets and favorites that connected each of my own tweets, as well as tweets I was drawn to saving/responding to. This is rather messy, but it’s an attempt at a sort of network (this is only the first of two days and chronicles the movement of my tweets + tweets I was mentioned in):


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  • solid orange line: quoting speaker at THATCamp
  • solid black line: RT from someone in attendance
  • solid green: response to someone in attendance
  • solid purple: mentioned by someone in attendance (but not present)
  • dotted blue: favorited by someone not in attendance
  • long dashed black: favorited and RT by someone in attendance
  • dotted black: favorited by someone in attendance
  • black names: people present
  • blue names: people distant

Out of 17 tweets from those two days, 12 were tweets I RT or favorited. It’s debatable how to measure the furthest reaching; the picture of @ahhitt and I with Otto the Orange had the most favorites and left the central NY area, but the response/comment I made to @ahhitt that evoked @s2ceball might be the furthest reaching, if she is still in Oslo on her Fulbright…

Not pictured: Instagram foods and activities and other odd things; readings; notebooks and doodles; calendar of work and due dates; schedule of sleeping/waking; the starts and stops of an exercise routine; how many/little miles I walked each day; the amount of muscle rub applied to my “computer neck” on a daily basis; how many times I responded “[sigh] goooooood” when asked how I was doing vs. some other response.

image of (even) wider scope

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:

Huevos Rancheros Diagram

EM—Journal: Greetings!

Best ST Captain

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 8.37.18 AMScreen shot 2013-04-22 at 8.37.55 AM

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 8.38.55 AM


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

an end to stagnation

(if I state it, it becomes fact, right? …)

too much stasis of thought. brain like pond (man made) in need of churning, of percolation, of thought bubbling to the surface even if they go “nowhere” but pop and recombine with molecules in the air. brain like pond scum. (speaking of scum, this coffee is quite bog-like. more scoops in a single pot doesn’t bring on more energy, but more acid reflux). a snippet of morning re-reading to vibrate and make vibrant matter (it’s spring: things are looking up, or rather, down with the help of theoria):

“Graphics reveal data.” The conviction that information exists outside of – or in advance of – the presentation of data in graphical form is problematic, even inaccurate, from both a theoretical and a practical point of view. On a mundane level, certainly we can understand that information designers see their task as the creation of clear, legible, unambiguous presentations of data. But every graphic representation is a rhetorical device. Every presentation structures arguments — it doesn’t “reveal” facts in all their purity through the fallible, flawed system of graphical expressions. The relations between what is communicated and how have to be acknowledged. (23)

Johanna Drucker, Graphesis: Visual Knowledge Production and Representation


the act of seeing

Seeing. I wash the dishes and begin to deconstruct the sound of the water flowing from the faucet. The pan in my hands no longer has weight, I can no longer feel the water over my hands. Steam. I don’t blink. My gaze down the drain and the guttural noises feel as if they are emanating from the back of my head, the first shelf in my mind.

Writing. Translate this to paper. Be sure to get the shift of eyeballs rolling in their sockets. The feeling of a gaze that extends from this plane to another and back through the head and the eyes. Map this prewriting practice of losing and leaving and somehow coming back into the body to stiff wrists and eyes that feel like tissue paper. And an idea.