A book visualizing current gun culture in the United States by Tina Mukherjee. A nice example of data visualization.
“A collaborative poster conversation” started after the Newtown shooting to allow designers and members to contribute messages related to gun violence through creative visuals that add to this conversation.
Apart from being a compelling set of visuals, these examples are beneficial in terms of my individual project as a basis for how other designers are thinking about and visualizing the topic of guns and gun violence,.
Based on other public health campaigns, I began to develop ideas for gun safety promotions. Some ideas I explored were:
-Making a gun/shape out of different things (hospital bracelets, hundred dollar bills, etc.)
-Comparing gun statistics to other events (this many die a year…as opposed to 9/11, war, etc,)
-Comparing guns with seat-belts and other things that we use to keep us safe)
-High-quality ads for guns as “accident starters”, etc. (see beer goggles ad)
-Replace guns in pictures with something else (what else could soldiers be holding); replace everyday objects with guns (what if a baby held a gun instead of a bottle)
These early ideas were visualized and expanded upon in the sketches below. As I worked, I began to understand the challenges that I am facing in doing this project…
-How to portray controversial ideas in a way that makes people curious rather than offended?
-Maintain pro gun safety rather than anti-gun, or expose these subtle differences through the work
-Avoid playing into stereotypes (or use them to my advantage)
-How controversial/gruesome/shocking is appropriate? What are the limitations?
In order to create a gun safety campaign that is compelling and thought-provoking, I have been looking at existing public health campaigns for various other hazards. The following are examples of print, media, and installations that succeed at challenging perceptions through provocative imagery, careful design, and innovative messages. Some consistent themes/methods used in these ads include vanity, design fiction, images of children, visualizations of more abstract ideas, objectification, disturbing imagery, and symbolism.
Drunk Driving/Binge Drinking
Meth- Not Even Once (Arizona)
(Sleeping with a baby)
Interview with a member of the Allegheny County Child Death Review Team
Allegheny, Prevention, Protection, Review
The Child Death Review Team reviews the death of every resident of Allegheny County from the ages of 0-21. This team is made of a diverse group of people, including medical examiners and law enforcement members. They look over medical examiner and police reports as well as the background, childhood, and family dynamics of the victims. All of this information is uploaded to a national database with the purpose of revealing possible preventative and protective measures.
Most firearm deaths in Allegheny are the result of homicides and accidents (as opposed to suicides). It is a difficult issue to address because the intention of this review team is to protect, not to infringe on the rights of any community members. The team is also not allowed to have any follow-back with the families, and must rely on family support programs and information from other sources, such as police and medical practitioners.
As a result of this work, it seems that more consistent policies could make a difference in increasing safe gun storage (i.e. same policies for storing a gun for police officers as military personnel). New programs that focus on showing the aftermath of gun violence to young adults seem to be working. It would also be valuable to focus on childhood experiences as an indicator of later experiences with gun violence.
An initiative of the Allegheny Medical Examiner’s Office to reduce gun violence among young adults in Pittsburgh. The goal is to provide them with a “reality-check” as most shooters do not get to witness first hand the damage they inflict.
An article that reiterates our in-class discussions about gun control tactics in Australia, what it took to enact such policies, and whether similar methods have the potential to succeed in America.
In 1986, this anti-smoking commercial was released detailing how in the future, humans would have new features and adaptations that allowed them to be “Natural Born Smoker”.
Features include a larger nose to filter smoke, self-cleaning lungs, extra eyelids to protect from smoke, and a natural resistance to heart disease and lung cancer.
Based on this idea, and related to my individual project goal of creating a public health campaign around guns, I thought it would be interesting to explore how in the future, human could be adapted to live in a world with guns.
“Natural Born Shooters”
What if we were adapted to best utilize guns? How would our bodies physically change to accomodate the gun, rather than designing objects to fit our existing physical form?
Features might include: extremely strong and dexterous thumb and pointer fingers, extra padding on the palm to make a tight grip more comfortable, extra muscles in the hand for a sufficient grip, larger eyes, enhanced eye sight, and perhaps the ability to “zoom in” to increase target accuracy, extra padding in the hip area to increase comfort when the gun is holstered
“Natural Born Victims”
How might physical features change to allow for better chances of survival in a gun-centric society?
Features might include: Larger eyes and ears to better anticipate surrounding dangers, a protective layer around the torso as a sort of ‘built in’ bullet proof vest, enhanced reflexes to dodge oncoming bullets
How would these adaptations exist? Would there be some people adapted to be natural born shooters or some adapted to be natural born victims? Would there be groups that did not have either adaptation and how would this effect interactions with those who did? What if both adaptations existed in the same society, creating a sort of duel race interplay?
Other considerations include the cultural implications of these adaptations. A follow up “Natural Born Smoker” video considers how children in such a society would be raised, learning in school how to hold a cigarette and best inhale smoke. Perhaps in such a society, children would learn how to hold guns in kindergarten and shoot in second grade? How would guns change or adapt along with the people who use them?
Finally, in relation to my individual project goals, I need to consider whether a visualization of these potential adaptations would be effective in bringing attention to the possible consequences of an increasingly gun-centric society.
The goal of my individual exploration is to challenge the public’s ideas and perceptions surrounding guns. Gun violence, while disturbing, is something that has become quite normalized in our society. We are saddened to hear about an accidental shooting where a child was killed, but not surprised.
In the 1990s, anti-smoking campaigns were successful in catalyzing social and cultural change. The behavior and perception surrounding smoking, which was just as, if not more, normalized as guns are today, changed dramatically in a short amount of time. This public health campaign was successful in causing the public to consider smoking in a new way. What began as a series of images showing the harmful health effects of smoking led to laws regarding smoking in public places.
My goal is to use the methods involved in the anti-smoking campaigns to create a similar public health campaign around guns and gun safety. How would the world look if everyone had a gun? If no one had a gun? How will a child who has been shot look in 10 years? How would future Americans look if we became better physically adapted to use a gun? To avoid gunshots? How can statistics be emphasized in surprising or exaggerated ways to spark debate, questions, discussion?
Through the creation of a public health campaign, I hope to challenge the existing thoughts and perceptions surrounding guns and gun safety and begin to understand whether such a strategy can lead to cultural and behavioral change.