valerievisual

Readings, and Related Inspirations


Leave a comment

Design Decisions – a presentation

It is becoming increasingly important for writers to think visually. If we are going to survive in a world of screens, we need to begin to think about how to go about it. One of the tools we already have is design. We already think about the margins and fonts we use when we create a traditional style essay. And those of us who tweet, blog, or use instagram are thinking about the presentation the 140 character message, the blog we keep about running, or the instagramming we do of our food.

In 2002, Diana George claimed in her article, “From Analysis to Design” that “to talk of literacy instruction in terms of design means to ask writers to draw on available knowledge and, at the same time, transform that knowledge/those forms as we redesign” (26). George goes on to quote the New London Group on the matter: “Designing transforms knowledge in producing new constructions and representations of reality.” For both George and the New London Group, design is an impactful part of our rhetorical approach to whatever project we’re working on.

Today I will be talking about 3 web tools that we could use to do a variety of projects and presentations. We will talk about the available designs and capabilities of these tools, and we will talk about how to decide which is best for whatever projects you may be working on. In 2005, Anne Wysocki made an argument that is still very important, which we should keep in mind as we walk through the tools below: “to ask after the constraints as we teach or compose can help us understand how material choices in producing communications articulate to social practices we may not otherwise wish to reproduce” (“awaywithwords” 56).

Prezi is a presentation tool which has both a ‘path’ feature, and a zooming feature you can use to create a linear OR non-linear presentation to keep your audience engaged. Prezi has templates you can start with, or you can design your own prezi using your own background pictures or shapes.

Here are several examples.

Sugar the Quiet Killer

The above was created using a template. I chose to do a prezi because of its embedding capabilities, because of the availability of this particular template, and to show my students what prezi can do on a basic level. I did alter this template somewhat.

Stitches Book Recommendation

This one is a student project done for a comic book classroom. The student took advantage of the storyline in which a boy goes down and into the story. For this one, the student did not use a template, but took scenes directly from the comic.

****

wordpress is a blogging tool that you are currently looking at. Blogs can be used as presentations, like the one you are seeing here, they can be formatted into whole single projects, they can be turned into websites, and they can be traditional blogs, among other things. The wonderful thing about wordpress is its versatility – if you can think of it, you can probably design it on wordpress. Keep in mind that the themes are rather limiting, as each theme has different capabilities. Traditionally, we think of what we put inside the theme as ‘content,’ and the visual design as ‘form.’ But as Krisitn Arola pointed out in 2010, “the form/content separation is problematic in that form is implied as not content” (“The Design of Web 2.0 6).

Here are some examples of wordpress blogs used in different ways:

Accidental Devotional

The above is a traditional blog kept by a teacher, mother and activist right here in Atlanta. You can see how simple the author has kept her blogroll, with a plain background and not a lot of flashy widgets. And yet she has a wide audience, and has even given a TEDex talk.

GSU Tools prototype

This is a wiki prototype that is in the process of a build through the Student Innovation Fellowship. If you compare it to the first blog design, it is almost unrecognizable as the same type of tool, unless you know what you are looking at. The theme on the above blog allows the boxes to display in the way they do, and each theme has different menu capabilities that some others do not have.

Travel Portland

And this one is a webpage made by wordpress. The theme is likely an expensive customizable one which delivers a clean presentation to help the reader get more information on travel to Portland, Oregon.

****

tumblr – is another blog site, but it has a much different design aesthetic than wordpress, and is even pretty well-known as a social media site where users display predominantly visual blogrolls, or feeds, as we typically think of them when we talk about SNSs.

Here are some examples of how people are using tumblr.

Obama is checking your email

The above is a satire tumblr making fun of a claim about a year ago, that President Obama is checking our email. This tumblr went up and content was quickly added for a short period of time. The purpose of this tumblr was to make fun of a news story that would likely be forgotten very quickly. It was important that this tumblr be plain, and contain almost all visuals so the reader could scan through, have a good laugh, and move on.

Vintage Black Beauty

This tumblr is an excellent example of how these tools can be used for larger projects like collecting digital artifacts for display in an archive. This tumblr has a much different theme than the Obama one does, and it takes advantage of layout to give the reader a sense of the types of images collected within. This tumblr is actually being used as a part of the author’s dissertation.

 

 

Advertisements


1 Comment

Comprehensive Exam Progress

It has been a long time since I posted. I keep meaning to. I have a lot to say. I read Adam Banks’s book Digital Griots over a month ago – but I just keep on reading, and not blogging. So I took a moment to snap a few photos of what I have been doing and where my thinking is going, and I thought people out there might want to see how I am going to pull off my comprehensive exams in October.

As you might already know, I am a highly visual person. I’m that person who can draw a map to someone’s house based on directions over the phone, leave the map behind, and still make my way there, no problem. So I decided to map my thoughts as I read for my comprehensive exams.

Below is a wide shot of the map as it is developing (if you zoom, you might be able to make some of the details out).

Comps_Map_1

The map is split into two sections – Materialism on the left, and Visual/Digital on the right. The idea is that the ideas from both with begin to meet in the middle and I will make my biggest connections right in the center.

Here is the left – where I have been spending most of my intellectual time. I want to get the material theory down first before I start applying it to the digital.

Comps_Map_Left_1

And here is the right. As you can see, I haven’t hit this too hard, but it’s coming.

Comps_Map_Right_1

So there you go – feel free to steal this idea and use it yourself. I bought a 7ft roll of paper at the art store and thumb-tacked it right to the wall. And I use pencil so I can erase and move. Ideally, I would have painted the wall with whiteboard paint, but I don’t own, so… paper it is! The plus side is that I can roll this up and take it places later, and if I need to start over, I can just take it down and replace it with new paper. Hooray!


1 Comment

Parenthetical Visuality and Third Space – 8150

This week we moved into feminist rhetorics, and our featured readings are kind of brilliant:

Royster, Jacqueline Jones. “A View From a Bridge: Afrafeminist Ideologies and Rhetorical Studies” – From Traces from a Stream

and

Licona, Adela. “(B)orderlands’ Rhetorics and Representations: The Transformative Potential of Feminist Third-Space Scholarship and Zines.”

taken from mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu

taken from mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu

Although I found a lot of worth in Royster’s piece, like the fact that she begins with a story to base her theory on, and the fact that she taught (teaches) here in Atlanta – I am so fascinated by some of the things that happen in Licona’s article, that I am going to focus there. This post plans to be a little off from my more traditional posts (the end of the year is getting to me) – so put on your blog-post-seatbelt and hold on.

First I want to address Third-Space. Licona defines Third-Space as “a location, third space has the potential to be a space of shared understanding and meaning-making” (105). And while I agree that there needs to  be a designation of space for ‘other’ people to gather and talk and make their voices heard, I can’t help but wonder if our country is founded on too many binaries. Why third space? Why can’t we have fourth and fifth space too? We have two political parties, and people only ever talk about getting a third. What of a fourth or a fifth? We talk about race in terms of black and white – but anyone who’s ever woken up in the morning knows that this binary is false. I have no solution for this term ‘third space’ – but I view it as problematic.

Here’s the crazy part:

As I was reading Licona’s article, I began to think about dystopian futuristic science fiction. It’s pretty much the most entertaining genre ever created. Licona’s use of parenthesis creates a visual break in many of the words she uses in this article. The parenthesis cannot be heard: only seen. Further, Licona discusses intersexuality and “how the biomedical profession has, historically, occluded feelings, expressions, and experiences of sexual ambiguity” (107), which is largely true (and I believe Haraway addressed that last week). And then right after this, Licona talks about Haraway (eureeka!) and talks about the hybridized cyborg…

This is where my brain went:

It’s the future – but not that far – 2113, let’s say. Humans have long since legalized gay marriage. In fact, they have legalized polyamourous marriage too. People have names that contain parenthesis – names that must be both seen and spoken – names that give their identities such nuanced meanings that almost everyone wears their name stitched onto their clothing (this is also a display of subject-specific-superficial consumerism). And while at birth, almost everyone is designated as either male or female, as they get older, they are given a number based on extensive psychiatric evaluations through social interaction and testing. The number indicates their placement on the sexuality scale. You may be a straight male who sometimes admires the physique of other men, but not sexually (M9) or a fully lesbian Female who is disgusted by men and does not even feel comfortable in the same spaces (F1). Or perhaps you have decided to surgically alter your biological sex from Female to Male, yet you are still mostly sexually attracted to men (TM3). These labels may also be monogrammed onto all your belongings as a part of your consumer identity, if you should chose to have this displayed. There is even an option for those who find themselves to be sexual chameleons – that’s why there is the LCD- identifier – allowing your sexual identity to be displayed as it changes.

The above system was designed through a conglomeration of government and corporate sponsoring that the people accepted gradually. Many thought it would be utopian. Many felt more comfortable being able to identify each other – parenthetical names indicate a longing for deep conversation, for example. But then the (M5) and (F5) designated humans began to form a coalition and prove that they – the most open and willing to move through the sexualities, were dominant – somehow better. Because humans love hierarchy. I’ll let you imagine what happens next.

— Anyway – that’s what I was thinking about as I was reading Licona. I am not a fan of Zines. I had a bunch of friends in zine culture, and I get it. I’m just not a fan. So I’ll leave you with the craziest response blog I’ve ever done. I wonder if it qualifies as non-linear. Or stream of conscious, maybe? Hm.


Leave a comment

A Quick Dip in the Visual Rhetoric Pool – 8150

I lieu of writing out a whole response on the topic of Visual Rhetorics, I am instead making my annotated bibliography available here in digital form.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Or feel free to continue the conversation we have in class here on my blog.

Visual Rhetoric Annotated Bibliography


1 Comment

Marking the Public Sphere – 8150

As soon as I began to read “Gangs and Their Walls” by Ralph Cintron (1997), I thought about my own experiences growing up on the West Coast, hearing about gang violence, knowing several gang members, and even having a couple of ‘tagger’ friends (tagging is a MUCH different practice than gang related graffiti). In his paper, Cintron discusses gang graffiti and its placement in public spaces – its “manifestations of desire and frustration” (164), and how gangs are an alternate sub-altern group that do not fit under the same systemically voiceless rubric as do women, as Nancy Fraser discusses  women as subaltern in her text “Rethinking the Public Sphere.”

I couldn't find one of the images from the text, so here is some random gang graffiti - taken from people.howstuffworks.com

I couldn’t find one of the images from the text, so here is some random gang graffiti – taken from people.howstuffworks.com

This week, we also read “Community Literacy: A Rhetorical Model for Personal and Public Inquiry” by Lorraine Higgins, Elenore Long, and Linda Flower (2006).  This paper is an interesting look at how local discourses can be fashioned so participants at a community level may have a voice in their everyday lives and ‘problems.’ In four parts, the authors define the problem(s), and discuss how to transform these problems into discourses where community members can take action for their own well-being, in their own lives, through writing and communicating among many embodiments of the levels of the hierarchical system.

It’s a little difficult to connect these readings to each other, though there are many ways this could be done. Even so, as usual, I’m going to take these off to play in the deep end of the pool and talk about something that has always been of interest to me: tattooing. In order to bring this into the conversation with some relevancy, I turn to the first section of the Higgins, Long and Flower piece: “Assessing the Rhetorical Situation” in which the authors claim that “problems are not empirical entities ‘out there’; they are, as so famously argued in the exchange between Lloyd Bitzer and Scott Consigny, interpretations” (6).

The first problem I seek to identify is the problem of the body as both public and private space. Like the wall of a building, or an underpass, or even the side of a cargo train-car, the body is both privately owned, and considered fit for public view, presumably while one is clothed. Like a wall, the body poses something of a problem area as it is both and neither belonging to public sphere. We see Fraser, for example, address women’s issues this way. When the body is marked in some way that is ‘other’ than what the dominant public sphere deems suitable, it may fall lower on the scale in  “societies whose basic institutional framework generates unequal social groups in structural relations of dominance and subordination” (Fraser 66) – societies like America. Like the problem of domestic violence, or women speaking in public, the marked body hovers somewhere not quite public, and not quite private.

This piece was done by Sammy Bockleman of Birch Avenue Tattoo in Flagstaff, AZ - taken from www.birchavenuetattoo.com

This piece was done by Sammy Bockleman of Birch Avenue Tattoo in Flagstaff, AZ – taken from http://www.birchavenuetattoo.com

Bear with me as I make all this up pretty much on the spot – feel free to provide insightful feedback:

Until recently, and still arguably today, people that are tattooed are generally viewed as rebellious, often drug users, or even violent. Women with tattoos are sometimes assumed to be ‘loose’, or otherwise tainted. Google “Tattoo Women” and you get an entire page of hypersexualized women with chest tattoos. Depending on the nature and degree of tattooing, people are denied jobs, asked to cover parts of their bodies (sometimes rather creatively), or assumed to be less than a contributing member of society. Bodies of Inscription, by Margo DeMello and Bodies of Subversion, by Margot Mifflin are both scholarly books entering a discourse on tattooing, anthropologically in American and Canadian culture, and gender specifically, respectively.

Another issue I face in being interested in the rhetorical space of talking about tattooing, is in my inability to uncover ‘why’ people get tattooed. Popular reality television shows like L.A. Ink or Ink Master spend much of their time discussing the deep meaning and/or memorialization behind every tattoo they feature. As a result, as common argument I have heard is that people with tattoos should not have got tattooed if they didn’t want to divulge all the inner (private) meanings of their tattoos. It is as though the ‘norm’ of the public sphere is somehow transformed into a public body with permissions to interrogate, gaze at, and even touch a person who has chosen to get tattooed. Further, it is not uncommon to hear phrases like, “What will you do when you are older?” ; “How will you find a job?”; or “Don’t you know you are stuck with that for life?” – as though the tattooed body is somehow now in a prison from which the marked cannot escape. Somehow, because their body is less private according to the ‘norm,’ is it more of an inescapable prison than it was before it was marked?

Unlike communities aimed at building a literacy for a perceived common good (though Higgins, Long and Flower tell us that common ground is very hard to come by), tattooed people do not automatically form a common culture based on their tattooed status. There is no ‘local public’ for them to seek out. What would be interesting however, is to find (or create) an empirical study based around how two tattooed strangers might approach and greet one another as opposed to how someone ‘normal’ and endowed with the right to interrogate, gaze, or touch, engages a tattooed person. Again, this likely varies depending on the degree and nature of tattooing involved parties possess. Is there a public code one tattooed individual adheres to with another tattooed individual? If so, is this code understood, as a covert gang sign, color, or graffiti symbol might be understood in Cintron’s article? Where does one learn this code? Is it transferable?

As you can see, I am unsure exactly how this all ties together, but I have yet to see much work done rhetorically on this topic, though there is a particularly interesting piece by Sonja Modesti called “Home Sweet Home: Tattoo Parlors as Postmodern Spaces of Agency” (2008) which addresses the parlor as the space of agency and Megan Jean Harlow‘s “The Suicide Girls: Tattooing as Radical Feminist Agency” (2008), which addresses reappropriation of the body via tattooing in a subcultural third-wave feminist group called ‘The Suicide Girls.’ Neither directly address the public paradox of the tattooed body, or the particular nature of the tattoo, though there is rather extensive anthropological work on both gang tattooing and prison tattooing available for your reading pleasure.

I ask then, if a local public cannot be identified, how do we develop a common rhetorical capacity for tattooed people to express the myriad reasons for inscripting their flesh? How does the larger public sphere, the dominant culture that determines the ‘norm’ negotiate all the varieties of tattooed individuals? Do we bracket tattooing and pretend like we can’t see the ‘neck blast’ on our poetry professor? Do we pretend like we are not taken aback by the knuckle tattoos on the manager’s manager in the customer service department of the phone company? Are tattooed people to be shut away and relegated to telemarketing so ‘normal’ people don’t have to look at them? What – in a quasi-public/private situation as the appropriately exposed parts of the body – are we supposed to do to direct discourse that reduces discrimination in this context?