I was inspired by Jason Coats’ #vizpoem students sharing poetry images on Twitter (see the whole course here) and decided to take a stab at an old favorite – Wallace Stevens Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.
I’ve always found the following use of Godwin’s Law to be an interesting idea.
For example, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress. This principle is itself frequently referred to as Godwin’s law.
I ran into one a week or two ago at VCU’s online summit. Someone literally said to me “Well, I’m older.” My response was something like “You’re really going to play that card?” and so Losing Arguments Cards has been in my head ever since. The following is my homage to this particular losing strategy.
There was a time when merely surviving to old age meant you were wiser than just about anyone. You could find food during famine. You knew the poisonous berries and where to find good water. You survived the bears, wolves, and radioactive cannibals. You earned respect by simply not dying . . .
However, we live in a civilization. There are legions of people dedicated to keeping you from dying of your own stupidity. Things are labeled poisonous even if no one in their right mind would ever eat them. We killed most every animal that might eat you.
Maybe you learned something in your additional years on this earth, maybe you didn’t. I’m betting you didn’t since you’re falling back on your birthday to try to win an argument.
The mission is “Truth” through omission. Can you get at the underlying truth of a historical document through blackout poetry?
Blackout poetry has been fairly popular for a while1 but I haven’t seen any done on historical documents with the intent to get at a deeper, if fairly melodramatic, “truth”. I decided to use The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It makes for a pretty interesting way to interact with a dry document and requires a pretty close, and repeated, reading. I like the idea of redaction being a way to expose, rather than hide, things the government would rather not have said.
The text from above . . .
The United States of America
in violation of the principles of the of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law, have deliberately and repeatedly attacked the Communist regime in North Vietnam
the United States has territorial, military, political ambitions in that area
desires the Congress approves
the United States regards the Constitution
except that it may be terminated earlier by concurring resolution of the Congress.
1 It appears Austin Kleon invented the idea in 2010 which seems crazy.
I used white circles over a blue square to make the waves. Not mind shattering, but a quick easy way to do it that might get some people to think differently. This allows me to adjust them easily after the fact which a number of other ways to do this would not have allowed.
I drew the goldfish in Keynote. I really, really need to break myself of that habit but I’ve grown to like the vector drawing in that program despite the many, many shortfalls it has on other levels.
I remembered that Google lets you browse all kinds of patents and I spent a chunk of time searching for all sorts of patents. It is a fun place. It’s worth keeping in mind that even if there isn’t a thumbnail there are still images. You can also sort by age if you’re looking for older/newer material or look by inventor or company.
My first goal was to find something interesting. I look at everything from lightbulbs to submarines but eventually settled on this machine gun. It reminded me of a video game it was so massive looking. That got me the image below.
I put it in Photoshop and attempted to improve things using mainly brightness/contrast but wasn’t thrilled with the results. They didn’t look much different that what you see above.
So I put it in Illustrator and ran a live trace with the black and white logo as the base setting and touched it up a bit. That improved things some. Not perfect in terms of the lettering but good enough for my purposes here.
The next step was to add some grid lines for that extra-patent-y feel. I download this grid (which I’m guessing isn’t something that can be under copyright) and put it down as a layer over the top of everything. Which gets me much more than I want.
A little bit of adjustment to the layer properties makes it a much less prominent feature.
Add a quick border.
And finally, I decided to add some texture using this grunge texture pack. I put the image as a top most layer and adjusted the layer properties again to make it pretty much transparent. And that’s all there was to it. I’m pretty happy with it for about 30 minutes of what I consider relaxation work.