Now: Visual Rhetorics

The visual rhetorics course I’m teaching this semester is by now well enough plotted to pass along a link, finally. I haven’t taught the class before, which only means that its materials this time are spun provisionally from many influences–an independent study and qualifying exam at SU, Michael Salvo’s syllabus, Dànielle DeVoss’s syllabus, and good conversations with CGB just after the new year. Its large arc follows from photography to document design to infographics and data visualization. I remain cautiously optimistic that these three sub-arcs will fit together okay within the fourteen meetings we have. No surprise, but I’m supplementing heavily with PDFs and assigning as required texts only Barthes’ Camera Lucida, Handa’s edited collection, and Cairo’s The Functional Art. One project involves writing (and designing) Ch. 10 for the Cairo book–a “missing” chapter focused on visual rhetoric. There’s an ignite presentation set up to articulate in short-form one’s emerging visual-rhetorical priorities and interests in relation to one of the people interviewed at the end of The Functional Art. And then there is a loose-fitting, build-your-own-collection portfolio whose creation and assembly is spread as evenly as possible throughout.

I’m still trying to figure out the role of in-class workshop blocks devoted to self-paced attempts with Photoshop and Illustrator. And I can’t quite decide how formally and explicitly to dwell on technical matters and rationale related to different image file types. Against these uncertainties (or yet-unmade decisions), I count as one advantage that I have had all but three of the fourteen students in class before, and it’s a terrific bunch who will assert their preferences whenever I’m slow to decide.

Plotting Intensities

I first caught word over at

Junk Charts
this infographical rendering
(in the

Sunday Times
) of a week of concert-going. The spread includes profound
thoughts, counts of the people on stage, quality arcs of each show, more
profound thoughts, entertaining phrases, profound guests on stage, and best
parts, all convoluted into charts, graphs, stacked bars, and bubbles. When
I first saw the quality arcs, I thought it would be cool to throw something like
that together to suggest rising and falling intensities over the course of a
graduate program of study. But heck, it took me four days to get around to
posting on these few pieces that churned through the aggregator on Sunday, so
it’ll be a few more days before I get around to drawing up quality arcs of my

Continue reading →