Berny Tan and Sher Chew’s “Experiments in Literary Cartography” just published in Parsons Journal for Information Mapping

Sher and Berny's diagrams for week 10 of Isle-to-Isle (click to visit the site)
_______Sher and Berny’s diagrams for week 10 of Isle-to-Isle (click to visit the site)

Back in June, I wrote a post about Isle-to-Isle, an ongoing literary data visualization project created by VCS alumna Berny Tan and designer Sher Chew. The project is now in its tenth week, and Berny and Sher have just had a paper they’ve written about its early weeks published in the Parsons Journal for Information Mapping.

The paper’s abstract provides an excellent overview of Isle-to-Isle’s purpose and parameters:

The application of strict rules or the limited variables of data visualization to the immense fluidity of literature may seem at first counterproductive. Does systematizing literature diminish its power? Yet, authors weave great works of literature out of a specific organization and selection of words. This process, as intuitive and emotional as it might be, can thus be viewed as an interpretation of data. The infinite possibilities of the novel, the essay, the poem, and so on, are essentially crafted from linguistic data sets. Each work of literature, through their interpreters, then becomes the birthplace of derivative interpretations of data: stratums of innumerable branches that represent an individual reading of the text.

Isle-to-Isle is an ongoing web-based collaborative reading project that grew out of one designer’s and one artist’s separate investigations into the visualization of literature. Drawing from our shared passion, yet differing approaches, we dissect the same literary source material—Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island. Every week for a year, we will read ten pages of the novel. Without consulting each other, we then each generate a diagram based off those ten pages. At this time we are going into the second month of the project. The results are publicly displayed online through a dual-input feed that explores the challenges of critically visualizing a discrete qualitative data set. Our personal and idiosyncratic method may stimulate new interpretations of the novel and the act of reading itself.

Sher Chew's diagram for week 6 of Isle-to-Isle
_______Sher Chew’s diagram for week 6 of Isle-to-Isle

In addition to presenting the first few diagrams from Isle-to-Isle, the paper discusses Berny and Sher’s divergent and still-evolving approaches toward the project, as well as some unexpected developments that have occurred along the way.

Two passages in particular caught my attention. The first makes an interesting point about the notion of mapping in relation to different kinds of non-physical or conceptual space:

In our eyes, Isle-to-Isle is a form of literary cartography. In using the term cartography, we are referring to an act of mapping that goes beyond the traditional definition. It requires the liberation of the mapping practice from its strictly physical, geographical framework. It is, after all, synonymous with the act of locating oneself in relation to space, regardless of whether that space remains physical, or enters into the psychological, hypothetical, or even literary spheres.

In the following section, they consider the complex relationship between the facts embodied in Verne’s text and their own very personal and idiosyncratic responses to them:

Generally, we approach the data by a means of identification, and then interpretation. Mining the ten pages for intrinsic content is the objective precept. By identifying certain patterns within the story, we are able to visualize these trends. Yet, how we express the data is highly subjective; how and what we choose to communicate in the diagrams is completely by our own volition.

Reading in itself is an intimate experience. In distilling data through our reading of the book, cerebral interpretation and emotional response are inextricably linked. One of the most fascinating aspects of our differing approaches is the interaction of the cerebral and the emotional within our individual processes.

Berny Tan's diagram for week 8
_______Berny Tan’s diagram for week 8

Berny and Sher delve more deeply into these ideas by looking back at the project’s first five weeks, examining how their interpretations of The Mysterious Island have evolved over time. Along the way, they’ve arrived at some very telling insights about their respective approaches to Verne’s story. (For example, in reviewing their contributions to the project, they realized that Sher has tended to grapple with the text from a much more intellectual and design-oriented standpoint, while Berny’s approach has tended to be more empathic and personally engaged.)

The paper is available as a PDF at this link, and you can follow Isle-to-Isle at its website. The project’s Facebook page is also a good way to keep tabs on updates and new developments.

Hallie Kruger’s new website and shop

Hallie at work
Hallie at work. (via her Instagram)

VCS alumna Hallie Kruger has launched a new website and online store where she’ll be selling one-of-a-kind clothing and some of her artwork, along with custom-designed pieces. Here’s some information from Hallie via the site’s profile page:

I live and create in New York City’s Lower East Side, but I find my materials and inspiration from all over. Everything I sell is 100% made by me. Each stud is individually placed by pushing the prongs through the material and bending them into place by hand with plyers. Every piece of custom apparel is entirely unique and single-edition – meaning no two are ever completely identical. If you see something you like that isn’t exactly what you want, please contact me directly

I also offer a wide variety of screen printing services. Whether it is 1 piece or 1000, I take orders of all sizes. If you know what you want, but don’t have it made – I offer vectorization services and vectorization/screen printing package deals. Please contact me directly for price estimates. Printable items include t-shirts, sweatshirts, patches, hats, certain shoes, paper/cardstock, glass/plexiglass, tapestries, and so much more! If you have an idea, but aren’t sure if it’s possible – contact me and I’ll do whatever I can to make it happen!

During August, Hallie is offering 15% off on purchases from the site; you can find the promo code for the discount on its main page. There’s also a lot more to see on her Instagram and Facebook pages.

Here are a few images of some of Hallie’s work. Many more can be found at the links above.

An example of Hallie's one-of-a-kind customized apparel
An example of Hallie’s one-of-a-kind customized apparel

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Intersecting Colors
Intersecting Colors, Acrylic Paint on Wood Panel, 10″ x 10″ x 1″ – a painting from Hallie’s shop.

 

T-Shirt Screen Printed With Mosh Pit Image
T-Shirt Screen Printed With Mosh Pit Image

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Another image from Hallie's Instagram, showing a detail of one of her custom items.
Another image from Hallie’s Instagram, showing a detail of her handiwork.

“Of Zebraification” by William Patterson in Temporary Art Review

OZ

Last week, VCS alumnus William Patterson had a new piece published on the Temporary Art Review website. Titled “Of Zebraification: A Review of Cousins Presents ‘Faceless’,” the piece discusses a recent five-person exhibition at a temporary art space in Brooklyn. Here’s a brief quote from its opening paragraphs:

The exhibition is the first for popup gallery Cousins.  It dwells in a small industrial garage, a handful of stops down the L train in Brooklyn, NY. The five exhibited artists are gathered under Faceless, a title suggesting “the asignifying, asubjective, and faceless” as taking priority over dull and authorial recognition–exemplified in the concept of a face or pizza.

The emphasis for Faceless is instead mixed signals and ambiguous tactics. An open question pulled from the press release reads, “Can one shed these symmetrical lines and confines, dismantling the face, effacing the perimeter that it inscribes?” An appropriately strange group of artworks are gathered to do this bidding, shifting media and tone wildly, but Faceless manages to find a unit of cohesion in its stylistic and conceptual disparity.

Will then moves on to a thorough review of the exhibition, providing thoughtful commentary on each artist’s contributions and some of the underlying themes that run throughout (including the zebras mentioned in the title). You can read the rest of it at this link.

In addition, be sure to check out Will’s website, and this VCS blog post about him from last month.

William patterson in his studio (via his website)
William Patterson in his studio (via his website)

Shellyne Rodriguez selected to create a billboard for 14×48

14x48

VCS alumna Shellyne Rodriguez has just been selected to create a billboard for the public art project 14×48. Here’s some information about the project from the 14×48 website:

14×48 repurposes vacant billboards as public art space in order to create more opportunities in public art for emerging artists, to challenge emerging artists to engage more with public art, and to enliven the vibrancy of our urban environment.

14X48 is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts service organization. The organization was formerly known as Artists for Public Service Announcements.

Shellyne's website
A screenshot of Shellyne’s website (click to visit)

The following additional details are quoted from a recent announcement of 14×48′s next three billboards (you can read the full announcement here):

We held our first Open Call for billboard proposals this spring and received an excellent group of submissions! The proposals were reviewed by a seven-member selection committee comprised of artists, educators, designers, and editors who generously volunteered their expertise to 14×48. We’re thrilled to announce and congratulate the three artists selected by the committee, whose billboards will be posted this fall:

Margeaux Walter, Shellyne Rodriguez, and Desiree Leary. For more information on each of their proposals, see the descriptions below.

Through grants and private donations, we’ve already raised 50% of the funds needed to post these three billboards, and you can help us reach 100%! Any size donation will help—even $10. So show us your support and donate! All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

Shellyne Rodriguez re-imagines images of sagging, a fashion statement prominent in hip hop culture, as the ubiquitous and racy advertising of Abercrombie & Fitch, highlighting the contradictory responses to displays of the black male body. To accompany the billboard, Rodriguez will be producing an altered advertising catalogue to be sold and surreptitiously placed in locations across New York. She will also be leading a workshop with students to explore issues of representing the body.

You can see some of Shellyne’s work at her website, and learn more about 14×48 at their Facebook and Instagram pages. If you’re interested in supporting 14×48, visit this page.

I will post updates on Shellyne’s billboard as the project progresses. There’s also information about another project that Shellyne was involved with earlier this year at this post:

VCS alumna Shellyne Rodriguez writes about the UPNEXT Program on the MoMA INSIDE/OUT blog

Berny Tan at Asymptote Literary Journal (Summer Issue Out Today)

Asymptote

VCS class of 2014 alumna Berny Tan just wrote to me about her new job at the online literary journal Asymptote. Here’s what she had to say:

Since early May, I’ve been working for Asymptote, an online international journal dedicated to literary translation. We have just released our Summer issue—the first issue that I’ve seen through from start to finish as Chief Executive Assistant. In addition to uploading almost every article and other administrative responsibilities, I’ve been liaising with the issue’s guest artist, Robert Zhao Renhui (http://criticalzoologists.org/). A talented, up-and-coming artist that I met a few years ago in Singapore, Robert uses his images to build surreal, mysterious narratives around the relationship between man and nature. I also successfully pitched Hiba Schahbaz, a Pakistani contemporary miniature painter, for the issue’s Visual Section after seeing her work at the Bushwick Open Studios.

 

Here’s a lot more about the journal from the Asymptote website’s About page:

Asymptote is an exciting new international journal dedicated to literary translation and bringing together in one place the best in contemporary writing. We are interested in encounters between languages and the consequences of these encounters. Though a translation may never fully replicate the original in effect (thus our name, “asymptote”: the dotted line on a graph that a mathematical function may tend towards but never reach), it is in itself an act of creation.

asymptotes

George Bernard Shaw famously said, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange those ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” Similarly, incorporeal works of art (poems, short stories, etc.) have the potential to affect millions, since unlike apples, they are unencumbered by the problem of scarcity (Lewis Hyde). The value of translation is that it unleashes from latency ideas and emotions to a vast sea of others who do not have access to the language in which these ideas and emotions reside.

x2

Beyond the eclectic platter of languages presented in each issue, Asymptote seeks to persuade the reader of their sensual pleasures. Not only do we display work in its original language after the English translation, we sometimes offer the sounds of that language as well, via a “Press PLAY” audio option whenever such an MP3 recording is available. Other than the usual categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama and interviews, we also feature a section for visual art that relates to Asymptote‘s concerns of language and translation.

Every quarter, we showcase two Special Features: the first a Writers on Writers Feature, in which overlooked non-English writers are concisely introduced and the second a wildcard Feature that varies from issue to issue. For our call for submissions in the Special Feature category in our next issues, and for detailed guidelines for submissions in other sections, please check out our Submit page.

Beyond the eclectic platter of languages presented in each issue, Asymptote seeks to persuade the reader of their sensual pleasures. Not only do we display work in its original language after the English translation, we sometimes offer the sounds of that language as well, via a “Press PLAY” audio option whenever such an MP3 recording is available. Other than the usual categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama and interviews, we also feature a section for visual art that relates to Asymptote‘s concerns of language and translation.
Every quarter, we showcase two Special Features: the first a Writers on Writers Feature, in which overlooked non-English writers are concisely introduced and the second a wildcard Feature that varies from issue to issue. For our call for submissions in the Special Feature category in our next issues, and for detailed guidelines for submissions in other sections, please check out our Submit page.

- See more at: http://www.asymptotejournal.com/about.php#sthash.yRxaYUvd.dpuf

 

You can find the new issue of Asymptote at this link. I’ll be back with more updates about Berny’s work there later this summer.