An exploration of drawing, mapping, and systems

Generally, a system is a set of things that are coordinated – whether by design, by accident, or by evolution – to produce some type of output. Systems exist everywhere, and at all scales, yet the term as we know it is less than 100 years old, when engineers needed language to characterize the interactions in the natural world from which they modeled the foundational logics of information science and early computation. Despite the pervasiveness of systems and digital connectedness, most of our perceptual habits - and therefore the work we produce based on those perceptions, from art to interfaces - are rooted in pre-digital paradigms and metaphors. The central concern of this studio is to explore how these habits of seeing might fundamentally evolve to enable modes of representation faithful to realities that are relational, systemic, or non-physical, and not solely optical.

Time: FALL 2021 // Dev Studio 1

Role: Self-Directed

Tools: Photo Scanner, Photoshop, Illustrator, P5.JS

Project 1 - Para-Portrait

Breif - Create a self-portrait using and assigned input. My assigned technology was the flatbed scanner Experiment with this tool, focusing on the qualities, glitches, capabilities specifically related to its design. As particular qualities emerge from this research, continue your experimentation to develop your own techniques that reveal or expose (or mis-use, or exploit, or amplify) the inherent nature of your tool. Using your technique(s), produce a self-portrait. You may use Photoshop as a compiling, layering, or general editing tool, but only in direct support of the output from your capture(s). (In other words, this should not be an image that relies extensively on filters far beyond what occurs within the process of the assigned input.)

Here is a sampling of expiriments and research I did with the photoscanners (both CCD and CIS). The most interesting aspects of the photoscanner was the ability to "unwrap" three dimentional objects into a 2D plane. I explored this aspect further by creating a full body "unwrapping" which led to my final portrait.

Project 2 - HyperPsychoGeo

Pick an object or a space that either has direct personal significance for you, or about which you have (or can acquire) a lot of knowledge (or opinion). Capture or reproduce this object or space. This could be a photograph (where the non-relevant parts are removed), or a collage of photos, or a 3D model, or a digital or hand drawing. You should test multiple ways of making this before committing to a technique. The elements are simple (subject / content / visual language of the β€œtag” or comment) but each should be carefully considered, with a logic (even if that logic is subjective) behind your choices.

for this project, I decided I wanted to create a map of the planet Jupiter. Upon my first stab of organizing and mapping ideas, I struggled with conceptualizing the difference between a traditional "data visualization" and a "map". Here are a sampling of my initial tests:

While exploring alternatives, I found inspiration in the "voyager" record project. By creating a hyper restricted deisign language that would be intended to speak to any alien species that might come across it, I came up with my final map based around semiology and single line weights/simple geometry.

Project 3 - Distance Clock

Inspired by Situationist theory, we created a collaborative clock by using GPS data imported into p5.js. Each individual took an our long walk (or derive) and recorded there gps data. We collected the data and for the 12 people in the class, we compiled the hour long walks into 10 seconds per person on the clock. Here is my walk:


This class pushed me to think more intently about systems within my practice. It is an abstract concept that isn't quite straight forward but through the active work within this class, It helped clarify some basic principles. Any input is fed into a system that produces an output. By focusing soley on this term, wonderful possibilities can be produced.

Instructor: Tim Durfee