pre-thesis week 9

Last week’s class started out daunting, but the workshops helped alleviate some of my anxiety. Dan’s grid exercise in particular helped me think about the format of my project in a more modular way — I split the axes into medium components (static, simple audio + motion graphics, and motion plus full video) and linguistic components (phonemes, lexicon, discourse factors, and gestures/body language). I then created symbols for what types of content I could think of (fully original unscripted content, original scripted content from secondary media, and fully secondary media), so that I could place them in the grid where they might fit best. For instance, gestural components are best captured by video, but lexicon visualizations could fit very well in a static format. 

This was the end result with 10 different possibilities, which might all be nonsense to anyone else, but made sense in my head:

I am not 100% sure yet, but after considering it over the course of the week, I’m most drawn to the idea of a simple audio + motion project, using kinetic typography (and maybe some simple graphic elements, like moving lines or shapes) with original content generated from interviews — in the diagram, this would be #7. I would still have to craft the interview questions, but I’m imagining them touching on the topics of the New York(er) identity and perceptions, and how speech plays into it. The interviews would be spliced together to weave a narrative, and the kinetic typography would be designed in a way that highlights the linguistic characteristics of NYCE. 

In terms of my reading progress, I got quite a lot done this week. I watched Imaginary Apparatus‘s companion DVD, which was extremely interesting narratively, but also gave me a surprising amount of typography inspiration from vintage signage in the City. I read a chapter of New York New York!, and three of Branding New York — the latter being a lot more interesting to me than the former. Both Branding New York and Imaginary Apparatus deal with the “urban crisis” of the 70s, and I see a lot of the language there echoing the ways NYCE was stigmatized in that era: images of toughness, harshness, lack of civility being connected to this kind of speech and to the people most likely to speak it. I also got more than halfway through The Social Stratification of English in New York City this weekend. It was even drier than I imagined, devoting a lot of pages to explaining methods of analysis and showing graphs (and understandably so) — since I’m totally uninterested in creating something scientific, I am breezing through some of the chapters, and should be able to finish it very soon. Lastly, I read through about ¾ of The Typographic Experiment — like the other typography books, it’s providing me a lot of visual inspiration. One project that seemed particularly interesting was Tobias Frere-Jones’ Microphone typeface, which spits out phrases or sentences recorded in the streets of Boston. I love the chaos of this (partial) visualization — it definitely has a similar vibe to what I am imagining for my own project: 

I can see the light at the end of the reading tunnel now — once I finish SSENYC, I’ll be done with the linguistics bucket. I’ll devote the bulk of my reading time to finishing the NYC bucket next, while I craft my primary research plan; hopefully I’ll be done with that reading by the time I’m doing interviews. I still have some more typography books I want to read, but they tend to be quicker, and seem less dire to the primary research portion of the timeline (it’d be great to read them over winter break).