When given the absurd amount of data above, my initial response was feeling overwhelmed but also oddly content considering I enjoy analysis of simple data, for example, my interest in analysing film scenes, as suggested by the Fargo assignment and analysis pieces on my youtube channel.
That said, I pondered for several weeks as to what to do with the data. Firstly I began by questioning the data – what is it describing? What’s it’s significance? With this in mind, I began to research the decade between 1991 and 2009 to see find trends in the bar chart above. For example, the peak for the usage of execution was in 1995 – why? Based on my interpretation and research, the OJ Simpson trials was viewed by millions worldwide while there was also threat of global conflict e.g. the Oklahoma City Bombing and Iraq Displacement Crisis. 2000-01 saw a sudden jump which could have been triggered by the 9/11 attacks which went into a gradual decline by 2005, with another jump in 2006 – the year Saddam Hussein was executed.
While this are simply quantitate inquiry (defined in sociology as the method of research involving object, often mathematic, data), this interpretation gives us a literal image to display with a number and a shape. As well as that, it collimates into one consistent pattern of thought – the mass media is an influence on the rise and fall of an old school method of punishment. 2009 saw the lowest usage of execution – to defend my view: 2009 was the year of GOBAL ECONOMIC RECESSION.
As a result of this research, a thought transpired in my head: The death penalty increase/decline serves as a mechanism of public fear – the idea of thematically stylising my graph around morbidity and something with a sympathetic, emotional line.
By clicking on the images below, you can see my thought process and how these numbers can be broken into stories. At the end of the day, as David McCandless points out, stories follow the ups and downs of a character, as does life. (Vogler pretty much describes this!)
What followed (see above) was me literally turning my attention to the spreadsheet of data. In order to make the data understandable to an audience and to myself, I thought of categorising the countries into small chunks (continents in this case) then I would be able to compare them in a more condensed but accurate image. I considered a multitude of ways to draw the viewers’ attention, perhaps a coffin that’s broken up using flags or in scale of lowest being the least executed and most at the top. Finally, I looked for obscurities/oddities in the data, with the major one being China, which was simply stylised as ‘THOUSANDS’. In 2009, China began refusing to publicly displaying their execution total. The likelihood of why the number must be large is due to the dace that it’s incredibly easy to get the death penalty in China – robbery, freud, and even adultery.
I began considering Iconology and pictograms for the image such as the various methods of execution. After which, I thought that it would take away the simplicity of the coffin, which led me to considering a gravestone as a way to present the data. A grave gives of an upsetting, yet sympathetic image, which effectively goes with the tone of the story I’m trying to tell – look how high execution is in the world. I started to get ambitious on a relatively achievable extended. I thought that instead of making a solid image (an easy, yet incredibly dull direction), I thought I’d risk spending time to produce an animation on Maya… my first solo project on what’s being a more friendly piece of software to create a gravestone that broke apart, with considering to the cinematography in order to move the camera in accordance to where the data will be, which will be added at a later stage in post-production ie. in Final Cut, with lines created using Photoshop.