Saturday, March 19, 2011

Senior Project Part...something

An artist
Oh much to explain since my last post (other than the one I Just posted about John Fajuke)...I just kind of left you guys hanging.  Alright, first things first.  New senior project idea.  I have crunched a lot of Baldwin County census numbers and digested the data and have come up with some (I think) interesting statistics that can be represented in a number of ways.  The 2 things I focused on were these; population and income per household.  I was unaware of how thorough census data was but I quickly found out that they are on the ball with things.  Sure, their website is a little tacky and they are not the fastest at distributing all the information but the level of depth makes up for it. Let me explain what I mean. So there are countries, right?  And in this particular country there so happens to be states.  I know I know, we are getting complicated but you just wait.  Within these states there are things called counties.  The way the census bureau goes further is they break up the counties into subsections called (not cities) but tracts.  In Baldwin county there are 9 tracts.  Each tract is split up into block groups, which are basically just that--small neighborhoods or groups of blocks in a particular area.  THEN, some data is broken up into blocks.  So the way we would communicate this is by saying (and this is a fact) that, "The census offers data for population of Baldwin county all the way to a block level, but they only offer information about the 'average income per household' on a block group level" of course meaning that we could look at one particular block in Milledgeville and see the population of that group of houses but not the average income of them, we would have to back up to a block group where they do offer that data.

Invigorating right?? Hardly. But it is important info to know for my project.  I looked at the population of each tract which I could in turn divide it by the total population of the county to get a percentage that signifies how much of Baldwin county (which consists of only Milledgeville) that tract represents.  Why all this is important: If "tract 9702" represents 11% of Milledgeville's population, then I am going to physically go to that area and take 11 portraits of people that live there.  This way I will have an accurate visual representation of Milledgeville's population.  If tract 9705 represents 9% of Milledgeville, which happens to be the tract that contains basically all college students, then I am going to go to the college and take photos of 9 college students. Okay. I think you get the idea.

So there I am, approaching strangers asking to take their photos.  Today I took about 55 people's photos: all 55 live in the Milledgeville projects/ghettos and are actually quite dangerous areas to be in.  In fact, one of the areas I was in is where we had a deliver driver get beat up when I worked at Papa John's.  Besides the fact that I called the Baldwin county sheriff to get cops to patrol the areas I was working in a little more closely, I had little protection accept for one thing, and I thing one big thing; the ability to respect people. Do not act scared.  Do not act as though you are better or snobby.  And this sounds maybe cocky? Don't act weak.  All that builds in, I think, to understanding where you are and respecting the other person as a human being.  Show genuine gratitude and humility when they oblige and let you take there pictures (it is a weird thing to do after all).  Lessons I learned.  I was able to talk to white and black people alike.  Oh, and that is the Most important thing and is a good portion of what this project is about: they live in projects, they sit outside and people watch because they do not have fancy electronics or do not enjoy reading, and they are no less of a person than I am.

The owner of a restaurant
Which leads into my 3rd and final data set which I personally generated.  After taking every single persons photo I explained briefly "Everyone has an identity. For example, I am a brother. I am a son, an uncle. When I worked at Papa John's I was a manager so I could identify myself as that--a manager. I am a Christian." I proceeded to ask them what one thing they'd like to be identified as.  I coupled this, particularly with kids, with "What do you aspire to be when you grow up?" or, for adults, "Where do you work/If you could have any job, what would it be?" Want to see a small list of answers that I can list off the top of my head? Good. :)

"I am...
a businessman
an entrepreneur
a father
a princess
a mother
Dora (yes, the explorer)
the carwash guy
an uncle
a football player
a chef
a mechanic
an engineer
a construction worker
an artist
a grandmother
a basketball player
an architect
a minister."

I did not lead them to say any one of those, and that is not all of them either.  I even met a cabinet maker (the guy in the video above):
A cabinet painter
Why do I consider those things identifiers even if they just aspire to be whatever it is? (Self-fulfilling prophecy)

If we break through the socially constructed, mostly racial barrier then we will see that our college, which is all most of us college people see, is only a portion and inevitably we will meet the individuals who are just as much a part of Milledgeville's infrastructure, and ultimately through association as important to Georgia College, as anyone else. South and West of Dairy Queen are other people's whole world. No, literally.  Some of those people have not left the immediate vicinity of the county, much less the state or country.  I am not asking people to go there and try and make friends and such.  That would be dumb and dangerous.  What I want people to recognize is that everyone in Milledgeville first off exist, and second off contributes (and deserves the ability to contribute) socially, culturally, economically, and politically.

A businessman

A father

A playmate--They didn't quite get what I was explaining because they
were about to leave and were in a rush

Finally, to get back on track with my project, I am going to manipulate the photos in an interesting way and print them on transparency paper.  Imagine this (below) but where the white is transparent.  In the video I showed him this example image (printed on a transparency) so he could see what the photos will look like after they have been manipulated.

That is what each of them will eventually look like and they will be exhibited in an interesting way.  I have a lot of editing to do but I will be working on them at night times that I am in New Orleans so I should have time.  I only have about 45 portraits left to take of people and those 45 are not in the sketch areas of town!

The last picture I took of the day as I was leaving the Milledgeville's "Public Housing"


  1. Cool stuff man, enjoyed getting to read more about your process

  2. I was looking at your fb and saw this (I'm not a creeper, I promise). I really enjoyed reading your post! It's really interesting, and you certainly did your research about Milledgeville's population. I never thought of art projects being like this- having meaning I suppose. Your project is awesome and gonna turn out amazing! :) Can't wait to see it at the exhibit! Btw, you spelled except as "accept." :)

  3. Yeah, Hawk-eye. I'm glad I was finally able to post about it a little more. I've got some really interesting statistics and have done my share of "grunt work" recently. I'm finally putting it into production. It's going to be a crazyyy week. :)

    It's alright, Lauren, haha. I post it to FB for a reason! I'm glad I'm able to open your eyes :P I have done my share of research and to an extent that I don't even feel like posting it all on here because it'd take too long, haha

  4. Josh, this is amazing!! I'm so excited to see your senior exhibit. What a great way to learn about the people of Milledgeville and share that with everyone. I think it's a great eye-opener. Great idea.

    I've also done work with census stuff and they have a ton of good information about counties. It's pretty cool to see how you're using the percentages and photos together. Great job!

  5. Thanks, Nat! I'm really trying hard. I'm glad other people are thinking this is a good idea, too. Haha. I'm incredibly nervous for next week though that it will disappoint! Aggg