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Pictoral Autobiography

Hilary_Brashear's picture


(Open the attachment for a bigger, clearer image. In Word, zoom in for a closer look)














For this web project I created what I am calling a “pictoral autobiography.” I chose 91 (the year I was born) images that represent meaningful, events, people, places, ideas, and expierences I have had over the course of my life. Some of the pictures are  abstract representations of feelings or ideas, while others are more literal, like photos of family and friends. Rather than having a slide show of the images I wanted to the put the images together in a moasic (with the help of that created another image. I chose the picture from the cover of Michael Chorost’s book World Wide Mind  because a) I thought it was nice connection of my life to the course b) I found the selections we read from his book and what I gained from our conversation with him in class very thought provoking and c) I thought the image represented a poingant picture of the human quest for communication, interaction, and understanding. In his introduction Chorost states, “If human minds could work directly with the Internet…humanity and its tool the internet, would become a single organism with entirely new powers.” (Chorost 2011 :11) I found the idea of smaller indivudal parts coming together to create an autonmous whole and interesting idea and the decision to create a mosaic picture I hope reflects this idea.

In doing this mosaic I was thinking about our discussions of data, information, meaning, interpretation, and encoding/decoding. Many pieces of information are conveyed within this image but the meaning you make out of the picture will depend on what you are looking for. If you look at the whole picture of the finger tips touching your interpretation of the image will be about what that image represents. An integration of humans and technology? A reference to Michael Angelo’s Creation? A metaphor for the human desire to be in touch with one another?But if you take a closer look at the picture and look for meaning in the  “pixels” that make up this larger image you will discover many pieces of information about my life. Looked at in this way the picture becomes a visual autobiography of one individual. These images in and of themselve can be decoded to undestand something about me. Each picture represents something literal, metaphorical, or symbolic in my life; they represent both certain ages and times as well as images and people I find inspiring.  Taken together the mosaiced image from Chorot’s cover can both be a reference to all humanity and one individual that is a part of it.

I found the process of searching for images to represent my life a very interesting exercise. I noticed one intriguing pattern: most of the people or ideas that I find inspiring are or are created by men. This made me wonder if this pattern was more of a reflection of ours ociety or more of a reflection of me. I am inclined to think the former. The the ratio of powerful and successful males to the powerful and successful females throughout history  favors the (white) males. It is more likely that I would be more aware of males because they are more publically recognized   This does not mean that there were not just as many talented and influential females but that they did not get as much public recognition.  

Trying to reduce my life and personality to a folder of files on a computer. While I felt like I left many important things out, I think the photos I selected represent a good cross section of who I am at this point in my life.

Work Cited:

Chorost, Michael. World Wide Mind: the Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines and the Internet. New York: Free, 2011. Print.


Pictoral Autobiography.docx751.13 KB
Pictoral Autobiography Detail.docx1.72 MB


Liz McCormack's picture


The concept of a mosiac made from individual representations and symbols to create an emergent symbol, representation is a wonderful way to "represent" Chorost's thesis, as well as the inherent scale-ness of humanity from individuals to societies.  I very much liked your personal reflection making this same journey to questions about societies as a whole.  You also introduced us to a new tool for representing information  I'll have to check it out!

Finally, what a great instinct for engagement you've displayed. The bit of intrigue in your instructions right up front to download the attachments and zoom in was fun.  What was I looking for?  It was interactive and very effective in setting up your piece.