Jenna Witzleben

MFA Thesis Blog

This blog contains experiments, project and reading reflections, unanswered questions, and more relating to my year-long thesis as part of my Master's design program. From Sept. 2016 to May 2017, I explored rewilding human beings and the environments we inhabit at multiple scales including investigation around individual fears of nature, regional food production systems, and global overpopulation. The final works of this thesis can be found in my portfolio.

Mapping the Wild

For a mapping exercise this week I wanted to focus on the different subtopics of rewilding, as well as highlighting my focus within those topics. Rewilding has so many initiatives on multiple scales. It's important to understand them because I find rewilding best described by the activities that make it up. However it can be a bit overwhelming.

The original map I created showcased the 3 scales of rewilding as circles, with the subtopics in pill-shapes spanning the scales they operate in. For example, species reintroduction is largely an institutional practice and is less about individual action, whereas food systems span from institutional (large scale ag) to community gardens to individual food growing and purchasing. 

To demonstrate that my focus is on the individual level, I highlighted the center and added a fade to the pill shapes. 

There were many problems with this set of maps, primarily around legibility and text direction. My classmates found the overlapping shapes to be busy and distracting. So I created a new version of the map that pulled the content off of the graphics to streamline the design. The first map illustrates the scales from individual to institutional and highlights my focus at the individual level. The second map shows the subtopics as "pie pieces" corresponding to which scales the operate in. This map also shows my focus still at the individual level.

The Scales of Rewilding

The Scales of Rewilding

What does rewilding entail?

What does rewilding entail?

Even after this re-creation, I still find some issues with this map. Primarily the quantity and hierarchy of the subtopics doesn't sit well. It simultaneously feels like it's too much and like it's not exhaustive enough. Next steps to this map will likely include further categorization of the subtopics so it doesn't just feel like an endless list, and/or converging the hierarchy of the subtopics, so they don't feel like they're on 5 different levels.

Another additional improvement here is around the inclusion of the scales in the second map. It may be difficult for people to grasp that the pie pieces line up with the three circle on the map before it. So I may need to keep the labeled circles for "Individual", "Community", and "Institutional" on the second map.

And finally, this set of maps could be improved graphically to make more sense within my thesis. It doesn't quite feel "wild enough". How can I make a map that is both "wild" and easy to understand?

Jenna Witzleben