Faculty member Nicholas Felton, who teaches the course “Information Visualization,” sat down with Eye Magazine in an interview on his Annual Reports. Felton recently completed his 2010 Annual Report, which veers the subject from himself to “an encapsulation of my father’s life, as communicated by the calendars, slides and other artifacts in my possession.” Below is an excerpt from his interview:
EYE: This latest Annual Report (2010) will be your sixth. What keeps you returning to the project?
Nicholas Felton: I feel that the world of self-tracking is immensely fertile, and I keep finding new approaches and significance within it. In my search for content to use, I realised that the narrative of my life was the one that I had the most access to. I played with travelogues and time-lapse photography, but it wasn’t until I created this Annual Report format that I found an enthusiastic audience.
NF: It’s obsessive and rigorous, which helps to strengthen its believability. It’s voyeuristic – but more importantly, I like to think of it as a mirror. I hope that when people read my reports, they reflect on their year, their travel or wonder about the best grilled cheese sandwich they had.
My first experiments were archeological; digging into the records that I found myself keeping naturally, and I was able to extrapolate them or tie them to other sources to tell a story I found amusing or satisfying. I moved on to self-tracking with the purpose of collecting content for my project.
With this year’s report, I have come full circle. My father passed away in September, and I am back to digging through calendars and records to put together the pieces of his life. I am doing forensic work to try and identify locations of temples in Mexico that he has slides of, or clocktowers in Oslo.