One of the main criticisms of my last draft was that because both locations were represented with the same line pattern, there didn’t seem to be any discernible difference between the quality of one place over the other. Therefore, my map has undergone a subtle shift in design that is meant to better reflect the qualitative differences between both places. First, I got rid of all of the days in which I didn’t go to the location, which I had previously represented with a black line. I also added the variable of line length to represent the time spent at each place for that day. In addition, I further split up both patterns with colored sections, red being WARM (good) and blue being COLD (bad). I arranged both patterns in a circle, with the Pub (right) cutting off at the top and facing downwards, which emphasizes both the length of the lines and the negativity that is tied to it. In contrast, the Andrews Backyard (left) has more lines and is more vibrant with more red lines than blue. I believe, overall, the project did achieve the goal of mapping an invisible event, that being the evolution of my time spent in locations I desire to go to versus locations I don’t want to see as often. I do question the impartiality of the data, given the fact that so much of my mood is dependent on external forces such as the weather and the knowledge that I’m recording my behavior, however I don’t think the intervention of those two factors necessarily negates the results, it merely frames them. Indeed, the project could be described as a motivational intervention of my free time, with purely visual records of how my actions changed thusly.
By the end of the fifteen days, the amount of time spent was flipped and I had spent more time in the backyard than I did in the pub (at around day 6 I got food poisoning from one of their sandwiches, which caused a huge drop-off in my attendance). Quality resulted pretty much how I expected: the pub didn’t break past COOL, and the backyard got to HOT later in the timeline. In terms of the visualization, I wanted the map to have a timeline feel to it, since the information being shown is inherently linear and progressive. Lines seemed like the best option for this as they exaggerate linearity and make your eyes move from A to B naturally. I decided that color should indicate quality, and that thickness should correspond to time spent. I wanted there to be an easy way to compare the days of both places, so I had the lines from both days fork away from each other in a mirrored way. Numerous visual changes need to be made to my map over this weekend. For one, I’ve decided that emphasizing linearity is less important than providing a gestalt impression of both places. Therefore, I plan to arrange the lines into more circular shapes, and I will be eliminating the days in which I did not go to a location. This way, one place will be immediately recognized as providing a more positive experience than the other. I will also implement the thickness as a measurement of time that I previously mentioned I would utilize.
For my conference project, which is meant to represent an invisible event, I decided that I wanted to investigate an event that would be considered implicit to my explicit thoughts/actions. This way, motivations behind such actions would be forced to be exposed, even if they are not properly explained. For this reason, I wanted the visualized data to represent some subjective opinion of mine which could be compared to objective events, hopefully elucidating my invisible reactions to visible events. I had a few rough ideas, none of which truly investigated an invisible event. One involved gathering all of my letter grades onto a 2D surface and using color to indicate whether or not I agreed with it. I ended up not going with this because I realized that the letter grade was not an objective event, but rather another subjective opinion, and I wouldn’t be implying any particular motivations behind my actions. To improve upon this I decided that the event needed to be physical, and eventually came up with the idea of tracking my opinion of specific experiences. I picked two places on campus, one that I don’t spend much time in but would like to visit more often (Andrews Backyard), and one that I spend a lot of time in but would like to visit less often (The Pub). For 15 days, I recorded how many minutes I spent in both places, and then rated each experience on a scale of COLD (bad), COOL, WARM, and HOT (good). This way, I could take my subjective desires for experience and show how my motivation changes when I investigate them.
Our goal as historians was to create a space which invited people to not only experience the new space it established and re-evaluate that which it was built within, but to share and contribute to it as well. It was through this give and take that we hoped to, in our own way, subvert its surrounding environment, which is primarily dominated by personal histories that are hinted at from the exterior but always guarded. Our structure was simple, yet strong. Its thin steel bars and precarious wooden frames gave the piece a delicate quality, yet it survived rain, wind and lightning. It was physically open enough to be inviting to people passing by, while also providing a home-y intimacy. This is why the piece is relevant to psychogeography, as it disrupts what would normally be a space to pass by on the way to another destination, and allows people to experience the space from a different view. At the same time, through the system of leaving objects / drawings, it also invites people to glimpse the accumulative history of our created space, giving hints as to the individuals who have left their mark there. This affects one’s phenomenological understanding of a place, allowing you to be temporarily conscious of the invisible histories of individuals long gone from the area.
For the second draft of my self portrait, I primarily focused on the visual aesthetics of the map that needed to be better fleshed out. To start, I wanted to see what it would look like if I included outlines of my body, as a way of clearing up the fact that these are in fact profile pictures. However, for reasons that I will explain in a bit, I decided after the fact that this was not true to the overall concept of the portrait. In addition, I used the colors as an indicator as to the age of the picture, blue being the newest and green being the oldest. This was a good start, however because those colors are so close together on the spectrum, a few of the pictures in the middle ended up being hard to differentiate. Thus, for the final draft I’ll be extending the spectrum over one color to make that clearer. I was also debating whether or not to include a legend, which points to a larger conceptual decision that, in hindsight, I didn’t consider as much as I should have, that being the amount of information that I choose to reveal to the viewer. I can boil this debate down into two camps: 1, I reveal the system via a legend, thus making the methodology incredibly clear, or 2, I don’t provide any information, and just let the signs I’ve created imply accumulation. Both, in my opinion, are valid. In fact, I have to disagree with Angela’s comment that the portrait doesn’t include a sign system at all. There are variables to the piece (age of the photo, composition of negative space), and I have a consistent way of expressing them (color, lines). Furthermore, there are numerous examples in The Map as Art in which the sign system is not readily obvious, or when the purpose of the map is not to navigate but to demonstrate concepts such as change or abstraction in a consistent manner. Examples include Bryony Graham’s Rockaway Felix, You Are Here: Felixstowe, in which a pile of rock candy was left on a beach for people to take with them as they please, or Julian Schnabel’s South Coast Prickly Point, which is “not to be used for navigation,” but instead meant to show “how images and objects can be stripped of purpose through abstract manipulation” (177). The latter piece became an inspiration for my project, because in a way I believe that is what my portrait attempts to do, namely subtract the content from images that are supposed to represent me, leaving only the abstract similarities between them. All that being said, I do understand why that would be Angela’s first reaction, and I don’t think this draft was successful at all. Indeed, I’ve provided no evidence that there is any rhyme or reason to the lines I’ve drawn, and when people look at the piece as is, they would absolutely be lost as to how it should be read. For this reason, I will be including a legend in the final draft, which will indicate that the color is connected to the age of the photos. I will also be adding more photographs, and within those photographs I will be adding more lines, so that they are closer to the actual shape of the spaces between me and the environments. When I do this, I am hoping that clusters of lines will reveal themselves within certain pockets of the frame, thus clarifying the overall theme of accumulation. If this is successful, then I would also like to get rid of the outlines of my head, because they are contrary to the subtraction and abstraction of content that I’m trying to achieve.
For my self-portrait map, I wanted to make something that in some way addressed Katie Holland Lewis’ Tangled Pathways, in which Lewis documented physical sensations on an abstract grid that represented specific parts of her body. I was drawn to its accumulative structure and its gestalt-like presentation of individual moments. Through that piece, she found a clever way to distill and render a multitude of experiences into one visual space, and it ends up implying a certain amount of acquired agency over those experiences. I wanted to attempt a similar method, but instead of collecting data about physical experiences, I chose to use my online profile as the foundation. What I ended up doing was taking each of my profile pictures since I’ve been at Sarah Lawrence and tracing various distances between me and notable elements in the frame. Within each picture, I tried to alter my methodology of tracing slightly to fit what I considered to be its theme. For instance, in my profile picture that utilized datamoshing glitch techniques, I dragged lines from me to certain stray pixels in a somewhat random fashion. As well, the background of one of my profile pictures is lit while I’m in silhouette, so I created an even tracing around my head to signify this. When I composite all of them together, the result is nothing that could really be read, but instead serves as an all-encompassing representation of my different attempts at representing myself online, which in itself is somewhat daunting of a task, and futile to really do completely accurately. I’d consider it a map in the sense that I’ve set up a system for myself to display factual information, but the fact that I only keep that system to myself, and don’t include a legend, takes the attention off of the information itself and instead calls attention to its accumulation. Thus, what it makes visible is not the specific moments themselves, but rather the result of a build-up of their existence.