Observe + Quantify

I want to start by saying this project has been one of my favorites this far into my master's program. I’ve always been one to write things down constantly, whether that be taking notes in class, journaling about cherished moments, or just jotting down what’s on my mind. Because of this, data collection sounded like something approachable that would come naturally to me, and it honestly did.

As expected, our journey with this project started with analyzing our daily life and compiling the information we thought was collection-worthy. Through this exercise, I found out that besides doing schoolwork and assisting class, my other main focus lied within self-care, in the many forms that could take. I started with catalogizing the different activities I performed to enhance my well-being, these being —

  1. Meditation
  2. Listening to podcasts
  3. Walking
  4. Working Out

After I had my four main categories I proceeded to create a note-taking system where I would record whether or not I performed the activity, the number of times I performed it, and the times of day respectively. This system made it easy to both keep track of my progress and compile enough information to work with for my project. I tracked myself for the 13-day period between the day the project was assigned, and our second check-in.

With enough data to move forward I proceeded to use Excel to digitize my findings, create charts, and generate some basic diagrams to visualize the information. My plan was to use these computer-generated charts and make them my own through an analog and illustrative data visualization.

Although I was happy with my progress, I knew I could bring this information to life through other mediums, so I decided to delve into animation and motion graphics. As I talked to James in our second check-in, we concluded that my plan would be to create a series of animations and record original sound, recreating the experience of “meditation” or serenity for the audience watching.

With this in mind, my plan of action became to create a set of animations, record ambient sounds, organize a booklet with my analog diagrams, and finally make a video compilation of both the looping animations and sounds that would act as my abstract meditative component.

By adding extra “legs” to my project I had the task of making all of these components work together seamlessly. With this in mind, I gave my animations an organic, bouncy, and hand-drawn aesthetic while also keeping the same color scheme.

With the analog diagrams and the animations done, I moved forward with the recording of sounds for the background of the video compilation. This quickly became challenging given that I live in the middle of a very busy and windy city, which meant that I couldn’t record serene nature sounds without tons of noise. My solution to this was to create my own custom sound mix by layering certain voices and birds chirping sounds under a pre-existing stock city ambiance recording. Although challenging I was very happy with the end result, given that it has a personalized feel yet it achieves the meditative feel I was going for.

To finisheverything off, I created a booklet that served as the quantitative component of the project. The booklet represents a sort of key for the diagrams and analog illustrations by providing the reader with insight into my thought process behind everything.

Overall I believe this project was very successful in providing the audience with a glimpse of my life. I believe it has the potential of expanding even further onto other physical and digital mediums.

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Regina Acra

Graphic Design MFA student at Boston University — @regisletters