Map Project

In-class presentations: July 6, 7, 8 (two people per day)

Final drafts and rationales due: 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 13

For your second project, you will be combining visuals and space to create an argument.

This may take one of two forms:

Option 1: Rhetorical mapping. As Rebecca Solnit discusses in the episode of 99 Percent Invisible we listened to in class, maps allow us to perceive the same space in infinite ways. They allow us to highlight some aspects of a place while hiding others, to re-constellate points  in the spaces we inhabit in order to find new meanings. Or they allow us to find meaning in spatially representing non-spatial things—a life, say, or the internet.

Your task, should you choose this option, is to create a map (or two, if that serves your purpose better) that makes an argument about a place, about an idea, or about mapping/representation itself. This can be any kind of argument you wish; the only requirement is that it could only be made (or is best made) through the medium of  a map: sound engineering! While you may take an existing map as a template (I don’t expect you to draw the city of Chicago freehand) the substance of the map should be your own. Be sure to think about the aesthetics of your map—the colors, typefaces, amount of text, etc. How do they contribute to its meaning and argument?

Option 2: Rhetorical graffiti: We have discussed in class that graffiti can have multiple functions—it can be playful, subversive, or even just aesthetically pleasing. For this assignment, I would like for you to focus specifically on graffiti’s subversive rhetorical possibilities. That is, the combination of image, text, and location should be making an argument, attempting to change the way passers-by think about something beyond simply making them smile. If you are disrupting the way people engage with the world around them, have a specific reason for doing so! Similarly, because of the inherently illegal nature of graffiti, a soundly engineered argument will not simply espouse a cliché or a traditional institutional message. Take this opportunity to make a critique of something!

The location you choose for your graffiti should not simply act as a point of distribution but should actually play a part in your argument itself. Keep in mind that you are not limited to campus locations: through the magic of photoshop (or even of just drawing an arrow onto a photo), your graffiti can appear anywhere in the world, wherever you think it would be the most effective. You are still required to take your stencil on a trial run, however—just spray it onto some posterboard to see how it turns out. If you do choose a campus location, you are welcome to put up a temporary version of your image-text using spray chalk or Halloween hair spray in lieu of paint; in this case, a posterboard version would be unnecessary.

NOTE: If you feel that stencil is not the best form of graffiti for the argument you wish to make (maybe you prefer to use, for instance, stickers), I am open to this possibility; just check with me first and make sure you have a compelling reason.

Both options: As usual, your project should be accompanied by a rationale of about 800 words. In it, you should answer the questions laid out on the “On Rationales” page of the blog and explain how your image, text, and location work together. Bear in mind that you are also making choices about typeface, color, level of detail, etc. Don’t forget to draw on the course readings we’ve done so far, and feel free to do additional research of your own and cite it properly.

Questions I will ask myself:

  • Does the project combine image and/or text with location to make an argument? That is, is this project soundly engineered?
  • If graffiti: Is the stencil created for a specific space–would changing its location change its meaning?
  • Does the project make its argument using the affordances of graffiti/maps, showing rather than telling?
  • Is the concept of the project (NOT the execution: we won’t be grading your drawing skills!) complex/ambitious?
  • Does your rationale articulate a reason for the choices you made in creating this stencil? (Color, image, font, level of detail, etc)?
  • Does your rationale engage substantially with course readings to help explain those choices? That is, don’t just “name drop,” but show us that you understand the theoretical concepts we’ve covered and know how to apply them.

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