Experiment 6


This is like a weird hybrid decomposition of my experiment 5 (visual proposal). It is Humument-esque, an attempt to visualize lyrics of Blakroc and get closer to the creative aspect of my final project. Using word clouds of all the lyrics in the entire album, applying Phillips-type of washing out certain text, hoping to create a Shapton-influenced objectification of lyrics on paper.

Experiment 6: My Struggle Through Snapchat

Experiment 6**

Please click on the link above to see my reimagined version of Experiment 4: Self Representation.

I am telling a story of my day, where I go through regular Princeton struggles, and then find comfort in something I love. I decided to use the form of snapchat (which is a telephone app where one takes pictures, adds comments, draws pictures, and sends it to friends. The picture disappears after up to 10 seconds both from the friend’s telephone and the sender’s telephone). I picked this medium, since people my age often use this method of communication, and add a visual image of themselves to their messages to each other.

I think snapchatting is both a more intimate mode of communication, due to the inclusion of one’s own image, and a more distrustful method of communication, since the receiver does not get to keep the message. I could not capture that effect in this project unfortunately, since the images need to stay on the paper for grading. However, in an ideal context, I would like to create a comic strip that only exists for up to 10-ish seconds.

I put in explanatory, and emotional emoticon-type things in my first draft of Experiment 6, and then edited them all out. I think I finally learned to edit down, and to have faith in the images to carry the intended meaning on their own. I hope this reflects my growth through the experiments in this class.

I had a great time creating this [and so did my snapchat friends]. I hope you will too..

Experiment 6: Recomposed

My decomposition looks almost nothing like my original (experiment 1). The very top of the page is the only part directly copied and altered from the original. There were two aims for this piece:

1) to take some of the key images of my original work and make them more abstract.  I wanted to remove the quote from the immediate context of the book.

2) to experiment with my scanner. I don’t have the best scanner in the world but I wanted to see what details the scanner would pick up and leave out, what shadows it would create, if I manipulated the paper by crumbling it, bending, layering, etc.–to varying degrees of “success.” The piece is one sheet of paper about the size of the original, plus the text which I layered under (and therefore over) it.


Visual Proposal…Revisualized.

In my visual proposal, I attempted to depict hyper attention with a simple two dimensional drawing.  Specifically, I hoped that I could introduce (using symbols) new media into Chris Ware’s Building Stories (specifically the storyline of Phil) in order to force readers to engage in a hyper attention form of thinking.  However, I believe that experiment to have failed because it only symbolically and very tangentially applied the idea of hyper attention.  Furthermore, I came to an understanding that in many ways Ware’s texts are already a sort of hyper attentive model — many different types of books that you can pick up and put down, and so forth.  However, they still retain some notion of deep attention in that you can focus on only one book at at time.  Despite this, Chris Ware’s overlapping narratives scattered among different books in Building Stories provide a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the needs of hyper attention.  Now, I revise both the subject and the medium through which I do this, in hopes of transforming it into a true model of hyper attention.

Hyper attention, according to N. Katherine Hayles, a professor at UCLA, is characterized by the following:

— Rapidly switching among different tasks, and excellent ability to handle this change in environment.

— A preference for multiple streams of information

— Involves a high level of stimulation

— Ability to handle environments where multiple things compete for attention.

— Impatience with non interactive objects

Source: Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes by N. Katherine Hayles.

Here, a single narrative (which is recognizable as the demise of Branford Bee) is envisioned as an iPad app which caters to the hyper attentive model of thinking.  The narrative is actually told from three different perspectives in two different books.

The iPad app allows the user to toggle between perspectives of different characters (see the three icons on the right of each iPad ‘screen’) without differentiating between the different books.  Instead, it organizes the narrative by time and collapses all parts of the same story contained within various books into a single sequence.  Interdependent parts of the narrative (i.e. that the girl must open the window before Branford can escape) must be played out by the reader/user before the narrative continues along.  The reader/user moves the characters along the page until they reach their final destination as indicated in Ware’s original text/drawing.  i.e. in panel 1, the actual image is of the girl pouring detergent in to the washing machine.  As the finger swipes her along this path, she will move towards the laundry machine and pick up the detergent.

By rendering Building Stories in this fashion on the iPad, I capitalize on several key components of hyper attention.  First is the ability to focus on multiple information streams, which comes from being able to shift perspective between different characters.  Secondly, the objects become interactive, in that the user must guide the narrative forwards by making characters move towards their destination (i.e. Ware’s actual drawing).  Furthermore, there are multiple points of attention, since the user must simultaneously propel all the different narratives forward by toggling between characters and checking if their story can continue at a given time.  Hopefully, the below storyboard brings these ideas to life.


1.  The current perspective is the girl’s.  In Ware’s original panel that this image depicts, the girl is pouring the detergent into the washer.  The user (the hand) swipes her across the screen until this image is shown, at which point this panel’s interactivity and narrative have been completed.


2.  The user toggles to Branford Bee’s perspective, whose current narrative is of the approach of the girl in the laundry room.  However, because the user has not reached the panel in the girl’s perspective where she opens the window, the user cannot “move forward” in Branford Bee’s perspective.


3.  The user toggles back to the girl’s perspective and moves through the panels until she opens the window.


4.  The user toggles back to Branford Bee, who can now escape.  In this 3 by 3 grid, the user taps one by one on each of the mini panels in order to move the narrative forward.


5.  By the end of the above 3 x 3 grid, Branford Bee is flying free and towards the drop of soda on the stair.  Thus, when the user toggles to the building’s perspective, we see the image of exactly this happening as Chris Ware depicts it.

Panel 1 comes from the game board; panel 2 comes from the back of the Branford Bee booklet (red cover); panel 3 comes from the game board; panel 4 comes from the Branford Bee booklet; panel 5 comes from the game board.

Note that the prequel to this narrative is contained in The Daily Bee (where Branford gets stuck in the house to begin with!) providing more fodder for the iPad app!

Experiment 6: Decomposition

For my final experiment, I chose to decompose both my 3rd and 5th experiments. In my 3rd experiment I took an inventory of a student’s trash can while in my 5th experiment I drew a visual proposal for my final paper. In this proposal, I hoped to depict the fatalistic message that I believe is conveyed through the story of Branford the Bee in Chris Ware’s Building Stories. For those familiar with the two previous experiments, you will notice that the pieces of trash that I’ve used for this final experiment are limited to those found in my 3rd experiment (with the exception of a few small pieces of tape to help hold together the signs, and the markers to draw the signs and make the bloody napkin, all of which are shown below). The overall “map” also resembles the one drawn in my visual proposal. The “trash” for this experiment was not collected from the same student’s trash can. It was either bought (the Emergen-C and cereal), acquired from the dining hall (bananas and orange), or found in my own personal trash (the napkins, contacts, and receipt).

Some of the parallels include:
– Banana = pathway
– Emergen-C + water + contacts case = poison (Emergen-C and the poison are both chemicals! And the colors of the “poisons” match the headwear of Betty and the queen.)
– Cereal boxes = Branford (his body is quite large)
– Napkins and oranges = flowers (the oranges were also very fragrant)
– Contacts “lid” + Q-tips = signs
– Receipt = tombstone
– Cereal = dead Branford (some of the contents of the cereal box poured out…)
– “Bloody” napkin = more of dead Branford (I thought the suspicious red, potentially bloody, napkin from Experiment 3 nicely fit into the fatalistic idea so I colored a napkin red to resemble the original bloody napkin from Experiment 3)

In this final experiment I chose to reinvent two of my previous experiments by combining them in order to bring out some of the new developments in my final paper ideas since my visual proposal. In my final paper I hope to highlight how Branford’s story highlights the story and beauty of an unrecognized, quotidian life. As I explained in my post for Experiment 3, an individual’s trash reveals much about an individual’s life. Trash reveals more about an individual than he or she sometimes wants to or even can convey. We similarly gain a greater understanding of the protagonist through her story of Branford. I hope to argue in my paper that, like Branford, the protagonist feels trapped between two paths in her life (loving her family or turning towards her own passions, in the protagonist’s case) and as someone who is ordinary and unappreciated (like Branford in the hive). Although we see some of the protagonist’s conflict of interests in the rest of Building Stories, I believe that Branford helps articulate this idea that ordinary people have interesting stories and also helps to highlight the protagonist’s story. Furthermore, Branford’s story highlights how the protagonist tries to reaffirm herself of her self-worth and the importance of her actions. As a piece of supporting evidence in Branford’s story, I will cite the reference to Branford as the bacterium that is helping with compost and the growth of new flowers. Similarly, I believe that the protagonist believes that her actions have great worth and will bring new life (in her daughter) even after she dies. I try to illustrate this second idea of new growth through the banana peels. The peels represent the paths of Branford (or the protagonist) and although the two paths ultimately lead to the same dark ending, there is hope because these paths will (literally, as the peels compost away after being thrown away) lead to new growth.

Thanks for reading!


visual proposal




A.K. Williams
Annotated Bibliography

Berman, Margaret Fink “Imagining an Idiosyncratic Belonging: Representing Disability in Chris Ware’s ‘Building Stories’ ” The comics of Chris Ware : drawing is a way of thinking / edited by David M. Ball and Martha B. Kuhlman. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2010. 191-205 . Print.

I’m looking to include this essay’s perspective on the ways that Chris Ware engages common conceptions of the ways that we understand social and physical spaces. The essay engages Ware’s grouping of the characters according to their physical proximity to each other and the ways that this tension opens up a tension between the ways that these characters engage and understand each other and themselves. I will use it primarily to speak to the ways that the physical and social forms color our understanding of emotion, selfhood and memory.

Ben Roberts(2006) Cinema as Mnemotechnics, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 11: 1 55-63.

This article speaks about the ways that philosophers have understood the relationship between memory, mnemotechnics and temporality. This essay deals mainly with the ways that human memory is understood as a cinema of mnemotechnics, and I will use it to inform my reading the way that Ware uses form to influence readers’ perception of temporality and memory in “Building Stories”

Sattler, Peter R. Past “Imperfect: ‘Building Stories’ and the Art of Memory. “The comics of Chris Ware : drawing is a way of thinking / edited by David M. Ball and Martha B. Kuhlman. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2010. 206-222. Print.
I’m interested in this essay’s discussion of mnemotechnics, observer and field memories and it’s analysis of William James philosophy of memory and selfhood. Mnemotechnic is a mnemonic that claims to help people retain information by constructing a physical space in their head and associating different concepts with different spaces.