As I have been looking at design and visually representing information for the past five weeks, I wanted to incorporate my findings in my personal project proposal. What struck me as perhaps the most vital element of design is the ability to convey a direct message and incorporating the viewer into the visual language of the message.
Working with these initial ideas, I took another look at Paula Scher’s more artistic side of her medium. As discussed in a previous blog, Scher attempts to convey data and facts visually. What would seemingly be boring and uninspiring information has been reworked and reenergised into something that is visually engaging. This is something I would definitely like to work with in my proposed artwork.
Upon this I decided to investigate into some interesting databases or information that is not normally conveyed. Very early on in the investigation I discovered a link to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where they have the last statements of all persons on death row since 1984. With a morbid fascination I was totally engaged in reading what these people were thinking in their knowing last moments of life. Some were incredibly apologetic and others spiritual. Others cried at the injustice of the system. It was powerful reading the last words of these humans. But what was even more profound was then reading what their crime was that placed them upon death row. It was an interesting moral flip from feeling sympathy to questioning how a human could possibly commit such an atrocity. The juxtaposition of crime and remorse felt incredibly thought provoking and I endeavoured to investigate it further.
The controversy surrounding the death penalty is nothing new and it is surprising in modern times how many people still believe it to be a fair punishment. John Oliver discusses the debate on his show, Last Week Tonight and it was fascinating that around 50% of people in the UK believe the death penalty should be brought back.
Similarly it just so happened that I was watching an episode of The Good Wife , a show about law and government in Chicago, where they discussed a death row case and their 9 hours to save this victim. The characters different reactions to the reality of death row is probably the most profound part of the episode as it seems to be a very dividing concept.
From everything I’d learnt I wanted to have viewers question their own views upon death, the law, the human psyche and ultimately our own morality. Thinking up ways to present this information I had a look at panels which you can walk around, on one side, the death row victims last statement, on the other, their crime. This visual representation is very basic at the moment but I believe with further proper investigation and creativity the design of these panels could further enhance the feeling they betray. Added elements could perhaps even be sound, someone reading out the statements of these victims and then another speaker reading out their crimes. Either in conjunction or different times. Perhaps even an interactive element, uncovering the crime as you weave through their last statement.
There are many different angles of taking this idea and its morbid concept but I ideally would like a heavy visual element and for the information discussed to be properly conveyed in this manner.