process post # 3.

I’m currently at a crossroads with my project-  do I want this to be a purely philosophic gesture, thus using images (however experimental) as catalysts to invoke philosophic ideas, or do I want to create a narrative, a story that people can ‘read’?  Certainly, either way I lean, I’m steeped in object-oriented philosophy at this point, and this particular branch of philosophy will no doubt inform my project.


Shannon, as well as our guests for our Pecha Kucha presentations, have all asked me the same question: ‘what’s the story you’re trying to tell?’  And, honestly, I really have had the toughest time figuring out the ‘narrative’ aspect of my project.  While I’ve got a surplus of arguments (or points I’d like to make), the gestures afforded by an object-oriented philosophy, particularly as it relates to the temporal dimension (wherein, for example, Graham Harman suggests that Time exists only on the interior of objects) dont necessarily lend themselves to conventional ‘storytelling.’  The only ways I’ve come up with to ‘map’ these kinds of ideas seem somewhat rudimentary; as noted above, they are textual arguments secured to images and placed on a map.  While I don’t think there is anything wrong with this (I indeed find it quite intellectually stimulating), I can understand the lack of interest on the behalf of others,  the potential viewers of the map.  Thus I should take them into account-


I finally put together a narrative over the course of the past week.  After  exhausting my brain just thinking about it (“what am I trying to do? what am I trying to do?”), it finally clicked when I began to wonder: “Where did all that water go?”  I then realized that the waste created by Hurricane Sandy is something we don’t hear many discussing (though I did come across an article in the NYTimes).  People are generally more concerned with the restoration of subway service and the rebuilding of homes, and I do not in any way mean to discount these concerns- I merely wish to focus on another aspect of the wreckage that has received far less attention.


To paint a brief illustration of the narrative I’ve concocted: just as the winds that caused so much damage traveled Northeast, so, too, is the waste caused by the storm moving in the same direction.  From Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, wreckage is being accumulated and transferred (by tug and by truck) to the Freshkills Landfill in Staten Island (which hasn’t been used since 9/11, when wreckage from Ground Zero was stored there), then sent up the Hudson (North) to Albany, and then East into Seneca Meadows Inc. in Waterloo, NY (what an ironic [and disturbing] name for a landfill).  So the Northeastern direction is at least something to think about if I do, indeed, want a ‘line’ on my map.


I’ve also been clinging to the idea of an aural element into my map, but, quite frankly, it just doesn’t fit into the project- unless I want it to be more ‘artistic.’   So: do I?  Hopefully you and I can speak tonight, Shannon, and I can thus decide which direction to head in. Regardless, I am happy with where I’m at with my work, and I’m  confident that I’ll be able to make it work either way.  I’m more-so looking for feedback than anything else.


  • Of course we did have a chance to speak tonight, Louis, and I think we made some progress! We recognized that making a philosophic argument and telling a story aren’t exclusive processes. Our tentative solution was for you to dedicate “chapters” to various “actants” within the hurricane system, and to tell the hurricane “story” from their perspectives. This of course requires a good deal of speculation — but that’s what speculative realism is all about!

    We also agreed that, in ascribing agency to these various actors — a grain of sand on the beach at Coney Island, a piece of garbage that’s washed away in the surge, the eye of the storm itself, a Staten Island resident whose home has been destroyed — you might also have to give them voice — which would allow you to integrate sound.

  • Thanks for the (spoken and written) feedback, Shannon- our talk yesterday was reassuring (and inspiring).

    The interview with ‘Wind Map’ designers Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg ends with a nice sentiment that I think others in the class might appreciate:

    “We’re always trying to push the boundaries of [what] visualization can be, and we’re mainly interested in data that has an emotional impact. Visualization is about meaning, not just facts.”

    Enjoy your time overseas !