Personas & commercial cataloging


Here’s what a personalised supermarket for student Jen would look like:


By the entrance are the essentials to student life : frozen food and, through this section, a shortcut to beverages (aka alcohol). As a student myself, I do still like to buy fresh fruit and veg just to keep the guilt at bay, which is why it is the next section on the map. Opposite are the canned/jarred goods which are practical and can still provide a good alternative to frozen food. Moving on we have dairy, a bakery and a meat section, the third one being slightly less important than the first two but can be easily avoided as you don’t have to pass through it to get to the next section which is… Beverages! In case you missed it the first time. At the end right before the till we have cleaning products and paper goods, strategically placed just so students won’t forget them as they are on their way to checkout. Many times before have I gone into a supermarket thinking I need to get cleaning products and because they’re at the back on the shop, I get too carried away picking my food and I completely forget them.

Of course this is a very stereotypical representation of a student and I don’t really fit all the criteria of this persona myself, but the way I understand it personas are built on stereotypes. Some of us went for the typical middle aged mum persona, others chose a five year old girl obsessed with pink, glitter and unicorns, and some of us even went for the alcoholic dad persona.

It was extremely interesting to see that even though we had never heard of personas before and were never taught how to make one, it came quite easily and naturally to us because we have absorbed so many stereotypes and preconcieved ideas of how to put people into boxes in our everyday life.

This really opened my eyes on commercial cataloging and the ways in which we are targeted by marketing.

The Archive by Charles Merewether


‘The Archive’ is a book that combines different artists and authors’ thoughts about archives. I like this because I get to flick through the pages and chose whichever essay I want to read, instead of reading the whole thing back to back.

Of course when I saw a text by Andy Warhol I immediately started reading it and it turned out to be extremely thought provoking and I love it. The essay is an extract from ‘The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)’ the book that he wrote. It starts off with such a powerful and strong statement : “I believe that everyone should live in one big empty space”.

Andy Warhol 1982
Andy Warhol

The most important thing for him is that the space is ‘clean and empty’ from all possessions. The ideal thing would be to not have any possessions, but Warhol says if you can’t bring yourself to throw everything away then you are allowed a ‘closet’ but it should be very far away from where you live: ‘If you live in New York, your closet should be, at the very least, in New Jersey’. To him all possessions are ‘dump’. That is such an interesting way to look at material possessions in a time and age where they are so praised by society. That is also what pop art is interested in. Warhol would collect the objects he came across over the course of a month and at the end of that month, drop it in a box and close it. This in itself is an archive and a very peculiar one at that (I would have loved to open up these boxes and have a look at what is inside).

Speech bubbles and Oulipo

Ridout L., (2011) ‘The Art if the Speech Balloon’, Varoom!, Issue 16, pp. 48-50.

This article looks at speech bubbles and how they act as graphic devices. Indeed in the text, the author looks at how the shape, typography and the overall visual properties of a speech bubble influence our understanding of it. Most of us are introduced to speech bubbles through comics and have never thought of their history or how they relate to the real world. One of the article’s most interesting points is the absurdity of speech bubbles put into the context of real life: the author is interested in the fact that ‘words and images take up no literal space in our reality, yet in a comic reality they do’ (pp. 48-49). This sparks up a discussion about the differences between these two reality and she goes as far as to imagine what speech of thought bubbles would look like and what they would be made of if we actually had them in real life. She then goes to look at the history of the speech bubbles, tracing it back to the Renaissance and, earlier than that, the Mesoamericans, analysing how the use and appearance of the speech bubble has evolved over different time periods and different cultures. Modern day comics challenge the traditional use of this speech bubble, giving it unexpected forms and testings its possibilities.

Oulipian procedure:

Nouns in the first three lines of my text: article, bubbles, devices, text, author, shape, typography, properties, bubble, understanding, bubbles, comics, history, world, article.

This aspirin looks at speech buffers and how they act as graphic diagrams. Indeed in the thaw, the __ looks at how the shark, tyre and the overall visual proprietors of a speech buffer influence our unease of it. Most of us are introduced to speech buffers through __ and have never thought of their __ or how they relate to the real __. One of the __’s

Qualitative and Quantitative

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative information?


often word based, descriptive, small scale, has a holistic focus, the researcher is involved, emphasises the quality of the information, doesn’t limit the question and can lead to surprising answers


numerical, large scale, has a specific focus, the researcher is detached, measures the degree to which (how long? how many?…), statistics, social sciences


You walk into your local shopping center and employees behind the information desk are handing out surveys to determine how the clients feel about the customer service.

  1. How do you feel about customer service in this particular department store?
  2. How satisfied would you say you are with the customer service? Very – Mostly – Half – Not very – Not at all
  3. How often do you go to the information desk when you have an inquiry?
  4. When receiving customer service from an employee, please rank the importance of the following: Patient attitude – Clear information – Dressing smart – Being pleasant and smiling – Being energetic
  5. How helpful do you find the staff? Very helpful 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 Not helpful at all
  1. How do you feel about customer service in this shopping center?

Second morning CTS session

On our second CTS session we were asked to bring an object. I brought an old Russian doll that used to belong to my grandma and that I have had for as long as I can remember. This, I discovered later, was not a very good idea, because I ended up dropping it and creating a huge crack down the side of it (good thing superglue exists). But that is another story for another time.

We were split up into groups and we gathered our objects on each of our tables. As an introduction to the task we read this quote by John Berger:

“Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and in this hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.”

We then had to look at our objects and try and figure out as many things as we could about them. Where does it come from? What does it represent? Is it masculine or feminine? Is it art or an artefact? What emotions does it convey? What personality traits can I give it? etc

We then had to set our objects up as an exhibition and think about how we would catalogue them, in which order and why. We were looking at Susan Pearce’s text ‘Collection as medium and message’ whilst doing this and trying to find a direct quote that would explain our reasoning. This is what our group came up with.

We were exploring tensions between ‘traditional social notions about what constitute ‘proper’ or ‘valuable’ or ‘prestigious’ material collections’ and objects that are collected through the ‘obscure but compelling movements in each individual’s hearts and mind’.

We organised our objects so that they went from modern and ‘obscure’ to more traditional and ‘valuable’.


First CTS session

On our first CTS session we opened up a discussion about ‘Cataloging’, which is what we are going to be focusing on for the rest of the semester. We focused on the book ‘Illustration: A Visual History’ by Seymour Chwast & Stephen Heller, and were encouraged to look at the contents table and think critically about the way the information was being cataloged.

The contents were sorted into two categories: Style and Form. The Style section was meant to be organised in a chronological order but as we looked more closely we noticed that the way these different periods were classified wasn’t a very accurate representation of reality: the context page conveniently separated everything when in reality different things happened at the same time or some things might have been overlapping others. We also noticed how this list was very European and American centred.

In our afternoon ISHE session we started to look at the difference between Primary and Secondary research.

Primary research: an original document that hasn’t been interpreted by someone else’s original point of view. Ex: exhibitions, a manuscrit, a photograph, a piece of clothing, a drawing…

Secondary research: summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research. Ex: Reproductions, Reading someone else’s opinion, reading a book about a particular subject or watching a TV program as the information that is presented might be biased.