I was in Cleveland last week showing a good friend of mine some of the Building Contention Project from this site and he asked me how I came down on the kind of style I used for this project. It was a good question. Satisfying because I spent a great deal of time on this very aspect of the project.
If you look above, the image on the left is a much more familiar (to me) stylizing of police cars. It’s more painterly and descriptive of what the cars would actually look like. The image on the right is “cartoon-y” and simplified. The buildings are taken out. The remnants of sun and descriptive shadows are avoided and a flat gray backgrounds the image. There may be a couple other types of vehicles included, but essentially, the image is pared down.
All the panels were worked and re-worked ( I re-drew—essentially—the entire 27-panel a couple of times) to attempt to clarify readings of the images. Christian and I didn’t want to distract viewers and subjects of the survey with the superfluous, or the “artsy”. The goal was to ensure predictable reading of the material. We needed to see that our subjects read “police car”, or “law enforcement”, or “cops” and not “sunset” .
It was a weirdly difficult job to do for me, having a naturally painterly style and this was at the time my first scientifically-oriented project.
But that’s also why it was immensely satisfying to get the news that the experiment turned back relatively predictable results.
Here’s an interesting set on point with this discussion:
These were supposed mirrored versions of one another—similar levels of violent action going in opposite directions.
Can you see the problem here?
I had the protestor handcuffed in the image on the left. I didn’t even notice the imbalance of power there. I did everything I thought I could to strip down my own biases and incidental predjudices and attempt even swings across both sides on the public side and the law enforcement side. But it appears the surveyors noticed. And they didn’t let me get away with it…
This is why I do this folks. Science is cooler than Donald Glover in sunglasses…I think.