"If I was brave enough I would…"
visual language b
What happens when you look up #blackwoman?
Technology focused on the black-owned print magazine, JET (a weekly magazine owned by Johnson publishing) as a way to understand racial, gender, and sexual identity. An existing website holds a collection of over 2,400 JET magazine covers going from 1951 through 2008 with links to Google books of the interior details. I focused on the covers and dissected them using only 778 of the covers. I dissected them into a spreadsheet (fig. 1) including month, year, headline, subheadline, cover design choices, etc. Within the data, people can see the shift from “negro” to “black” as the racial identity and the protectiveness that print has for black men.
Eighty-seven out of over 770 covers reference sexuality including crimes, orientations, and marriages. Turning these covers into a wallpaper (fig. 2), I made the covers into a collection of visual information that pauses and allows people to look back on the history of sexuality within the black community.
For the following project, I continued with this cover collection and dissected the covers even more to create over-sized magnets of the 1950’s covers. By taking out most of the text except the names of the people on the cover and the word “JET,” I establish an interface that allowed people to add current news related to black women and girls. The JET interface and the placement of the headline and subheadings within the interface speaks to people’s ideas on black women. The oversized covers were placed on a sheet metal structure designed to look like a 1950’s refrigerator on a rotating lazy susan. These covers gave me an understanding of the earlier visual influences of black female sexuality.