I'm Still Surviving: History Moves + WIHS Chicago
History Moves is an ongoing collaborative project at the intersection of design and public history. Central to the project’s diverse activities is an investigation into the methods by which design can assist in making the production of public history more participatory and more engaging. Each year, History Moves approaches a different urban social domain by partnering with a community organization to provide tools and processes that allow previously unheard voices to shape their personal narratives into a collective history.
In 2015, the History Moves team partnered with Chicago participants in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Established in 1993, WIHS is the world’s longest running clinical research study on women living with HIV. As one of six original sites across the US, the Chicago program includes women who have been participating in the study for over 20 years.
Through a participatory process that included workshops, collaborative working sessions, the use of specially designed history-making toolkits and plenty of candid dialogue, the History Moves team worked with the women of WIHS Chicago to create their own chapter in the history of Chicago. The women worked in pairs to interview one another, producing stories of staggering heartbreak and courage, tremendous loss and pain, and incomparable tales of redemption, determination, and spirit. Ultimately, these overlapping personal narratives produce a collage of all forms of social inequities and injustices—a mosaic of recent and contemporary urban life. With the individual oral histories as a guide, we then worked with the women to collect visual materials—photos, documents, hand-written stories and poems—to accompany their words.
In the collaboration between History Moves and WIHS Chicago, this book is the first output that aggregates the personal stories into a shared history—using the methods of design to translate the individual into the collective. Working from the book, the team continues to expand and distribute the material with a few more projects in the works: a short film as well as a mobile exhibition.
— project team —
Jennifer Brier, PhD: lead historian
Matthew Wizinsky: lead designer
Catherine Jett, MPH: research assistant
Alexander Hayashi: asst. designer
Mardge Cohen, MD: principal investigator, WIHS Chicago
Kathleen Weber, project director, WIHS Chicago
Ellen Almirol, asst. project director, WIHS Chicago
Editorial Design, Graphic Design, Print Design
In 1781, the French Protestant pastor Antoine Court de Gébelin wrote an account of the Tarot’s origins. This spectacular story knitted together Ancient Egyptian mythologies, astrology, and the mysticisms of the Kabbalah. No historical evidence was given for his account. In fact, it was complete bullshit. But it’s a fantastic story, and fascination with the Tarot continues today.
This contemporary iteration of the Tarot plays with and distorts the linguistic and iconic sign systems of the deck. At the same time, it blends some of the more terrifying concerns of life today. Characters of the “Major Arcana” along with the Hebrew alphabet and its pre-alphabetic sources are re-interpreted via contemporary sign systems. The design on the back of each card is embedded with a QR code which links the deck to additional online content: stories about agricultural monopolies, institutional surveillance, banking practices, the pharmaceutical industry, pandemics… you get the idea. It’s called Paranoid’s Deck, and there couldn’t be a better time for it!
Ultimately, the project is a massive layering of ideas about interface, connectedness, and randomness. Language systems, numerical systems, image systems, the Major Arcana as a medium themselves, and finally machine-vision are all five of the interfaces at play in this deck.
The full title of the project is “Tarot Five-Point… Oh! (Paranoid’s Deck).” It debuted in the Typeforce 6 exhibition in February, 2015, at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Chicago, IL. At the exhibition opening, Madame Pfeffer used the deck to provide readings for visitors. Her summary: “These are the most negative and cynical readings I’ve ever performed.”
Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Print Design
Global telecommunications, social media, and pervasive surveillance have produced an enduring tension between the desire to freely and conveniently exchange personal information and the desire to maintain selective privacy. Cryptography has shifted from the lore of military history and spy stories to a crucial function of everyday communications. Meanwhile, Chicago has developed one of the most vast, sophisticated, and networked surveillance camera systems in the world, which is nearing the moment that any square inch of the city can be seen, identified, and tracked. This incredible network of visual sensing combined with increasingly sophisticated facial gesture recognition and remote data processing suggest that we could create a world of deviceless media interactivity based solely on computer vision. A vast network of cameras, in which our presence (facial recognition) and context (location) could be put to use for personal and public purposes of data access. Oh, but first, we must completely demolish the current surveillance agenda of the entire system in order to make this powerful infrastructure safe, trusted, and truly our own!
Expo Crypto speculates a future in which these systems have the potential to be inverted by tapping into this camera network as an interface to publicly perform personal encryption spectacles. Using a post-surveillance camera network via eye and gesture control to activate private media in any public space with the privacy of a secret visual language. What if we authored our own visual cryptographic systems—not just for transmission of information but for its public display? Our desire to share and perform our data comes to life as unique and personal cryptographs dance across various surfaces. Will we truly liberate our most personal actions and information from institutional surveillance and commodification? Or will we only be hiding the mundane details of existence from our neighbors? We’ll see!
This project was developed for Starts/Speculations, the inaugural exhibition of the Chicago Design Museum. One half of the exhibition traced the history of graphic design production in Chicago, while the other half was dedicated to speculations from a few contemporary designers on the future of communication interactions. On display at the Chicago Design Museum, June 12 through September 30, 2014. Curated by Matt Terdich.
Digital Art, Graphic Design, Interaction Design
Co-organizer and exhibition designer of Chicagoisms at the Art Institute of Chicago, Kurokawa Gallery, April 24, 2014 – January 4, 2015. Co-organized and curated by architectural theorist Alexander Eisenschmidt and art historian Jonathan Mekinda.
The exhibition revisits the characteristics, attitudes, and mentalities of the Chicago's past, mining the city's history to define principles of architectural action and urban engagement: Vision Shapes History, Optimism Trumps Planning, Ambition Overcomes Nature, Technology Makes Spectacle, and Crisis Provokes Innovation. These Chicagoisms are also deployed here as springboards for new experiments as local and international teams of architects conceived visions inspired by the city that project as models from an array of historical imagery, together constructing a panorama of alternative urban worlds. The exhibition comprises 120 historic photographs, nine contemporary models, and five principles of architectural action and urban engagement.
With contributions by Bureau Spectacular, DOGMA, MVRDV, ORG, PORT, Sam Jacob Studio, Sean Lally/Weathers, UrbanLab, and WW.
Exhibition Design, Graphic Design
Touch Me I'm Sick
An interactive touch-activated poster installation. Two posters are in a dialogue/argument. Touch the typography on either poster to activate diverging view points presented via a handmade 25-point LED board with custom pixel-font type. Visualized statements contrast the positive, uplifting words of the deaf, dumb, & blind boy from the world's most prominent rock opera (The Who’s Tommy) with those of the aging, intellectual cynic (Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground)—all under the namesake of the foremost “fuck-it” anthem of my youth by the grunge band Mudhoney.
This installation presents two distinct techniques for turning paper into a digital interface through the application of conductive ink: by making open circuits and touch capacitance sensors. These are not new inventions in the world of electronics. However, by giving these tools for electronic interaction a legible typographic purpose, I am establishing some new parameters for the creation of letterforms.
Exhibited at Typeforce5. Feb–March, 2014.
Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago, IL.
Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Typography
Chicago Design Archive13 Posters
The Chicago Design Archive is a cultural resource archiving the "now-ness" of each year in Chicago's communication design community with design artifacts dating from 1869.
For Archive13, Nick Adam of Firebelly Design and Matt Wizinsky of Studio Junglecat + UIC's Innovation Center collaborated with Archive Creative Director, Bob Zeni, to define the 2013 voice and image across various identity and promotional materials.
CLIENT: Chicago Deisgn Archive / Archive13 co-organized by STA + AIGA Chicago | DESIGNERS: Matt Wizinsky + Nick Adam | ARCHIVE DIRECTOR: Bob Zeni | DEVELOPER: Bill Talsma
Graphic Design, Typography
This is a multi-user Tangible User Interface system designed for community level, collaborative, and iterative planning to mitigate surface flooding in Chicago. Participants are able to explore & test the effects of various green infrastructure (GI) elements within a specific neighborhood by placing game tiles onto a projection of that area's topography. The locations of each GI element are read by a computer vision system and input to a hydraulic simulation engine—a simplified version of one built for the Illinois EPA. Players receive immediate visual feedback on the scale & cost of each GI element as they are placed on the board. Once a plan is made, the resulting effects from a variety of storm types are visualized by an animated sequence of water flow, which is interpreted from the hydraulic simulator. Players can use specific tiles to operate the system's dynamic legend in order to revisit previous arrangements to continually iterate upon their plans for infrastructure placement.
The inherent design challenge was to produce simple game-like tiles that can be easily interpreted by both the computer-vision system and human eyeballs. Hundreds of prototypes were created to test color & feature recognition capabilities as well as material & scale.
The interface design for ecoCollage was conducted as part of the Responsive Media Lab at the UIC Innovation Center. The project is an ongoing grant-funded collaboration with UIC's Learning Science Research Institute, College of Urban Planning & Public Affairs, faculty and researchers from the departments of Biology, Ecology, and Computer Science, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago
Graphic Design, Interaction Design, UI/UX
In Kubrick's Bathroom
A photographic collage and self-portrait.
Digital Art, Photography
An intense psychedelic journey through inner and outer space along with some uncomfortable places between. Experiments in multiple modes of vision, appropriated icons of surrealism, the awkward tissue of public encounters, plus analog and digital methods of making movement- and time-images.
Music by Two Headed Dog.
Video by Studio Junglecat.
All footage shot by Matt Wizinsky / Studio Junglecat in various locations throughout Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, and from the Amtrak window passing through Gary, Indiana. Still photos provided by NASA, taxpaying citizens of the United States, and viewers like you.
WARNING: This video contains intense visual material. If you are sensitive to flashing, flickering, or fast-paced visual stimulus, you may want to look away.
Film, Motion Graphics
Alone in a Dark Room (with Steve McQueen)
The skin of (digital) cinema.
An experimental video dealing with the nature of capturing and disseminating digital cinema, the materiality of digital artifacts, proprietary issues regarding media art, and an attempt to “touch” another person—another place, another time—via the networked moving image.
In January 2013, I visited the Steve McQueen exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, where I found the installation of his video piece Illuminer particularly riveting. In McQueen's work, the reflected illumination of the television screen is the only light, which casts its media-glow on the artist's body, reclining in a hotel bed. The digital camera struggles to find the subject, creating a swirl of digital optical effects.
Confronted with this video installation, I used my 8gb cellphone camera to capture (maybe "steal"?) this work. I posted my own capture of McQueen's work online, titled Illuminer Expanded, part 1. From this new source, a MacBook Pro was used to both project and capture my own watching of this work while reclining in bed. Using an Auto Contrast algorithm, the resulting images are cast in another layer of digitized visual effect—three times removed from McQueen's digital camera, and with the French news station that provided the original light source and audio now translated 4 times.
More on Steve McQueen's Illuminer: mudam.lu/en/le-musee/la-collection/details/artist/steve-mcqueen
Illuminer Expanded, part 1: vimeo.com/56839171
Digital Art, Film
Typomania: The Case of Erik Spiekermann
A brief overview of the influential work of German designer & typographer Erik Spiekermann. Made on the occasion of his recognition as Honorary Member of the Society of Typographic Arts in 2012.
Graphic Design, Motion Graphics, Typography
I Can Wait
Launched during a presentation I gave at the Apple Store Lincoln Park (Chicago) on October 24, 2012, this project is a demonstration of the potential of speculative design. Addressing the dangerous and inhumane working conditions of Apple's suppliers and manufacturers, the I Can Wait project posits a simple solution that binds consumer, producer, and manufacturer. Given a choice, I believe that many Apple customers would spend a little more and wait a little longer in order to offset spikes in production demand that create so many labor & human rights problems. By uniting consumers in the effort to improve working conditions for suppliers, Apple and its legions of loyal consumers have the opportunity to set a new standard for producer-manufacturer-consumer relations.
The immediate goal is to see the "suicide prevention" nets come down at all of the Foxconn factories and dormitories. These big yellow nets outside the factories of a primary Apple supplier have become a sad symbol for 21st century labor relations. In return, for each person who invests in equitable labor with a down payment on the next generation iPad, perhaps Apple could also ship a small portion of the soon to be unnecessary nets. What would you do with a little section of yellow net with such a dramatic global presence? It’s like a having little piece of the Berlin Wall that you helped take down. Well, here’s my idea: the iPad Net Bag (see image).
For more information, visit www.icanwait.org. Please also sign the petition at change.org if you think this is a good idea. Thanks!
Branding, Interaction Design, Product Design
Chicago unDensity is an interactive tool for the dimensional visualization, manipulation, and exploration of several spatial boundaries in Chicago. By focusing on boundary definitions of the unbuilt environment (rather than the buildings, which get plenty enough attention), the project looks at the city-defined functions of open and shared public spaces; these boundaries are conceptual rather than physical, so they may not be visible on the actual terrain.
While this tool intends to provide new pragmatic possibilities— such as visualizing densities of conservation areas and historic districts or plotting a bike ride through an industrial zone—the true spirit of the project lies in its speculative potential. From citywide to neighborhood-specific vistas, the viewer can juxtapose, isolate, or spatially untangle boundary options, then manipulate both the view and the dimensional space of selected layers. This project is an invitation to manipulate and explore imaginary topographies based on real geographic data.
This application was built using Processing, an open source project. All data was obtained from the City of Chicago Data Portal. This video is a brief demonstration of the interactive tool.
Learn more at www.demoscartes.org
Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Programming
The CloudWriter project simultaneously merges physical and cognitive understanding with image and language legibility as an investigation into conceptual metaphor. To do so, various cloud metaphors are made literal via a machine that converts texts into letter forms emitted as bursts of water vapor: clouds. Given the flexibility clouds carry as metaphor, a wide range of applications for public language performances are proposed in which new cloud-based metaphors can be generated within existing social systems. For example, the Chicago Board of Trade as a cloud in which invisible activities impact the futures and livelihoods of many. They call this trading in "futures."
As the project is exhibited and continues to grow, documentation is presented across multiple media including a video essay, exhibition catalog, and an interactive cloud type simulator. For more info, please visit www.alphabetaclouds.com.
Interaction Design, Programming, Typography
Thirsty World is an investigation into water quality and quantity issues—globally, regionally in the Great Lakes area, and locally in Chicago. This story is told across printed and interactive digital media.
This project re-imagines the book as interface for a multimedia learning environment. By interacting with the book, the reader seeks out hidden U/V marker symbols to activate cinematic events in the
Interaction Design, Motion Graphics, User Interface Design
Metaphor, Memory, and Story
“Every word, image, and action is laden with innumerable potential for meaning. To understand the world we inhabit—and ourselves—we translate our living experiences through both physical and cognitive acts of metaphor, memory, and narrative. This research investigates processes involved in the perception and understanding of visual communications; to discover what happens in those learning experiences at the intersection of image and language. The purpose is to identify the potential for evocative communication to convert visual information into meaningful and memorable learning experiences."
Researched, written, and designed in partial fulfillment of the Master of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago, this book represents the completion of my thesis research. The ideas within were wrangled into this book over the course of about one year during studies in Chicago, Basel, Switzerland, and many points between. This research sets a theoretical framework for new practical possibilities between the realms of visual communications and studies in metaphor.
Due to a surprising number of requests, this book is now available for purchase online. Visit this link to purchase: http://visualthinking.studiojunglecat.com/about/buy-a-book/
Graphic Design, Typography, Writing
Ticker Type is a typographic display clock for a screen-saver or similar peripheral application. Every second brings a new typographic composition spelling out the number of the second at that time. Each letter is placed almost entirely randomly, with just a few parameters to aid legibility.
With only a second to read the word, Ticker Type presents time as brief and fleeting. Meanwhile, the background color shifts gradually as a metaphor for the changing light of day. The multiple levels of visualization in this clock reflect the ephemeral nature of every moment: each second is entirely unique and may be gone before you even notice… or can read it. The video is a one-minute demonstration of the clock application in (random) action.
This project was built with Processing, an open source project.
Motion Graphics, Programming, Typography
Type In Motion
Two poster concepts for an exhibition on Type in Motion to be displayed at the Zürich Museum für Gestaltung. Using the poster an application for the exploration of generating type-images through the manual manipulation of materials—via cutting, dicing , bending, morphing, taping, etc.—lead to unexpected results. By starting with as little of a preconceived direction, the manipulation and assembly of materials guided the process. Rather quickly, I began focusing on narrow slashes of material that could potentially lead to a sense of motion through a variety of possible effects: via optical vibration, wave patterns, shifting planes, layered segments of typography, and so on. This process proved to lead to a variety of possibilities that were both surprising and a new take typography. The resulting images create a physical/visceral response putting the motion in the viewer.
These posters were created during the week-long Poster Design Workshop lead by Leander Eisenmann at the Hocschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Basel, Switzerland.
Graphic Design, Print Design, Typography
Typometry is a hands-on, play-based game for the exploration and animation of letter forms. Players use printed cards as an interface to explore geometry, typography, motion, patterns, and thresholds of perception and legibility.
Each of four cards contains a set of letters grouped by their geometric basis: curves, rectangles, angles, and compounds. Each group is assigned a distortion-animation based on its geometric basis. For example, the curved letters are animated and distorted by circles. Moving a card laterally along the play surface, selects a letter from the set. Moving the card across the depth of the surface affects the intensity of distortion—the tighter density of forms leading to greater legibility. The compounds set of letters presents a special case for distortion, using a particle system generator to animate the letter form with hundreds of smaller letters. Results are visualized via large-scale projection before the table top area of play.
This project utilized custom computer vision software written with Processing.
Installation Design, Multimedia, Typography
White Girls deliver a noisy but spare punk sound within a chaotic and high-energy live show. The unifying look of the visual output has been a layer of hand-crafted grittiness–affected digitally or via screen-printing and hand-assembly (DIY all the way!).
Graphic Design, Packaging, Fashion
A poster series exploring ligatures and their relationships to, contradictions of, and/or metaphors for the concept of an inherent multiplicity of meanings in any symbol or symbolic arrangement.
Graphic Design, Typography, Photography
This series of posters seeks to offer insights into the term isomorphism in a variety of contexts. The term holds specific and distinct meanings in Gestalt psychology and evolutionary biology, among other fields, and each poster looks at a pair of connected concepts.
Graphic Design, Typography, Illustration
The Monkey and the Inkpot
This poster brings life to the short story by Jorge Luis Borges by examining the story’s exclusivity of action (only one character acts at a time) and their uniting element: ink translated as language and represented by typography. The story is split into two fragments, which are then separated spatially. Only one fragment of the story is legible from any given viewing distance. Moving toward the poster, perception of the larger words dissolves as soon the smaller text comes into focus. This approach insists on a physical as well as cognitive relationship between the viewer and poster, as one must physically interact with the object in order to read the full story.
Graphic Design, Typography
Isn't It Great to be an Artist?
Isn’t it Great to be an Artist? at the Cincinnati Art Museum was an exhibition of more than 150 paintings, sculptures, and drawings spanning the 1960s to the present featuring works by self-taught artists and those seeking alternatives to convention.
The Cincinnati Art Museum and Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati collaborated on this two-part exhibition of Sol LeWitt’s collection and work. The graphic identity united both shows via marketing and collateral pieces seen across the city and at each exhibition’s entry. The mark reflects LeWitt’s own interests in its minimalist systematic approach and illusion of dimensionality.
A simple, structured layout allowed for playful interaction of the variety of materials, scale, and colors behind the wide range of modern and contemporary works.
Exhibition Design, Graphic Design