Visualizing Historical Arguments

A Hispanic identity has been part of the United States since long before the massive immigration of the last decades. I explore the process as a form of research over finished forms.

Camila Afanador-Llach
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Florida Atlantic University

Visual representations of arguments based on historical events have the potential to shed light on contemporary issues. The graphic formats to structure such representations can include maps, data visualizations, and interactive archives. In this presentation, I show a series of projects where I use the tools of design to explore contemporary questions about the identity of places with a historical perspective. Using datasets and existing archives I seek to make evident the argument that a Hispanic identity has been part of the United States since long before the massive immigration of the last decades. I explore the process as a form of research over finished forms. With each iteration I continue to understand how arguments developed in long narrative texts can be communicated through visual forms.

In my engagement with historical narratives, I pursue more inclusive frameworks and decentralized ways of telling stories. Representing an argument in a visual format is also an act to bridge design practices with the humanities in the hope to establish methodologies for collaborative interdisciplinary endeavors.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.4: Parsons Integrated Design on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Grafik Intervention: Sparking Urban Revitalization Efforts Through Graphic Design

Brit Rowe
Associate Professor of Art & Design
Department of Art & Design
Ohio Northern University

How can graphic designers use their skills and knowledge to draw attention to—and invoke a solution to—the problem of urban decay? How can they take responsibility and help rehabilitate those wounded environments?

Buildings that sit vacant for one or more years can become eyesores in any community and even bring down the value of properties surrounding them. In some situations, it is too costly to rehabilitate these spaces, causing developers to avoid them and leaving them susceptible to blight. This presentation discusses how students in a senior level graphic design course designed a Grafik Intervention to bring awareness to an underutilized building and to inspire community members to consider the potential the building held.

The Grafik Intervention is an open source project that identifies a site based on its underutilized urban space and potential for revitalization. The building is carefully selected based on its notable history and location. Along with the digital projections during the event, an historical exhibit was created to emphasize the significance of the building. The goal was to engage the public through visually dynamic and compelling communication methods. The projections were created to provide historical information in an urban context on the building after dark. Through the use of projected visuals and real-time discussions, printed questionnaires were used to elicit information from the general public as they walked or drove by the case study building.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.3: Kent State University on Saturday, March 11, 2017.