On Form

September 29, 2020

This week I started to reassess my research. While I am really interested in the sort of yarn I’ve began to pull on, I think it might be too sprawling for the scope of the project.

After recalibrating a bit I decided to focus on the diversity and interesting features of sea slugs. They are incredibly diverse in appearance and also posses various interesting characteristics. These features lend themselves well to a collectible like baseball cards.

The entire premise of baseball cards is absurd, and the you can tell that the players / MLB agreed by the sheer variety and playfulness of many sets. Though I cared little for baseball, as a kid I was into the collectable nature of cards and also liked reading the stats on the back. Maybe sea slugs could benefit from some marketing?

The form of a card collection works well for the topic of sea slugs. It emphasizes visual depictions, allows for additional statistical information on the back, and conveys the “depth” of variety of the organisms by placing them in a numbered set.

The user for this field guide would be students, naturalists, folks who are into collecting things. The collectable form might also attract a cross section of audiences: those who are into nature and those who are into collectibles. I could see a collectible form like figurines also working, but the cards would be better because we could use their backs to list some info.

I also like that the ephemeral nature of cards lends the form to trades and gifts. Educational materials should be easy to part with, low cost and democratic.

Originally, I was struggling to find an apt form / metaphor for my sprawling research into East Bay poetry, etymology and sea life. I was thinking of something like a zine, but even that was too loose a concept for this exercise. My other thought was to marry these concepts into a “conspiracy” form. I think would have liked to pursue that if I had more time / bandwidth. As a fan of Thomas Pynchon it would have been fun to construct my own W.A.S.T.E. through gathered ephemera, but probably counter to the aims of the project.

In the end, I think the sea slug topic is pretty constricting as it really just lends itself to an apples to apples kind of form: there are 3000 things that all look interesting and different so maybe just list them out? The cards allow for a little more playfulness and nonlinear exploration than a book or brochure might.