One of my ambitions for this year in Rome was to bring together my passion for and my practice of graphic notation, diagrammatic cartography, and photography. As an information designer, my work has always been based on subjects that would be meaningful to their audience; my job is to give that content voice and accessibility.
Walking along the Passeggiata with my family during the fall, the rhythmic repetition of the faces of those long dead began to capture my imagination. That the busts were not of uniformly high quality—and many deteriorating badly—just added to my interest. The cadence of their names became music in my head as I would walk along; the abused, painted-in typography and the occasional rogue font added visual excitement and even mystery. Row upon row, aligned along the curves of the Passeggiata, they spoke eloquently to me, a documetarist for more than 35 years.
The project at the moment has three organizing principles: the heads; the typography of the names; and, imagining them alive as I do, what they see as disembodied living heads attached to their bases. So far I have completed an array of heads, an array of views, and a type array for the 50 busts north of the monument to Guiseppe Garibaldi. All the material for the south section has been photographed but neither enhanced nor configured. I have a plot plan for the entire project and found it particularly interesting to superimpose the plan on G.B. Nolli’s 1748 map of Rome, when the area was meadows and gardens.
All of these arrays are, up to a point, in geographic position, allowing for the constraints of page proportion and the need for internal consistency. So, in these compositions, which are really very large maps, interesting problems arise and are dealt with: in the views array, de Bosis needs to be pulled in two-thirds of the way to fit him on the sheet; in other views, the some pages are rotated slightly from north to fit (which is indicated in the small plot plan on each sheet); the heads are in only relative position, each group placed as closely as possible in a vertical format; and the type is most geographically accurate but the size of each name tends to reflect the congestion of its location relative to its neighbors rather than any objective or historical importance.