Jennifer O’Brien

animals, pets, abandonment : information design
May 2010

Originally for my senior seminar project I wanted to focus on abandonment issues surrounding animals in shelters and rescue leagues with the possibility of expanding the abandonment to include buildings and people. I was going to photograph abandoned animals and find out their background and what brought them to that particular shelter. Through discussing this I realized that I would become bored with this idea within two months. So I am going to go deeper than just the idea of  “Help these animals out.”

I am going to pick a few surrounding towns and research their animal control department. I am going to attempt to get access to files or documents they have regarding calls they receive, what type of animal the call is for, and what area of the town they get the most calls from. I want to delve into the demographics of each individual area. Is it possible that more calls come in for strays in the poorer parts of town due to limitations on money? I only thought of this concept yesterday so I have not done much in-depth research for designers and artists although one designer has been mentioned to me- Edward Tufte.  I searched through his website but it only includes very small imagery so I could not get a good look at it, but I have requested several of his books as a starting point for my researching graphs and maps.

I am thinking of combining all of the information I collect into a map or graph of some sort. I am normally very bad with understanding graphs or creating graphs, so this seminar project will help me with better understanding them seeing as I will be creating them. Maybe after I have made a few preliminary graphs or maps I will think of a way to take the presentation in a different direction.  I became inspired to go with mapping out information or creating time lines through my final project for Design Stories. I collected information for two hours in front of a bar and compiled all of this information into a timeline. Everything was organized and separated so there was no confusion as to what the viewer was being presented with. I got the idea to do this from the designer Nicholas Felton. He documents his entire year through note taking and creates an annual report of his life for that past year.

Ideally I would like my final piece to be a book containing all of the information I have gathered and the maps or graphs I will create. I plan to spend my summer collecting all the information for several different towns. I’m thinking of even possibly trying to set something up so I can accompany an Animal Control officer for a day so I can have an actual experience of the information I am collecting.

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