The challenge of this book project was to take the text of a podcast, a medium that communicates its message through audio alone, and turn it into a visual reading experience. For my text, I chose a segment of This American Life called "The Poetry of Propaganda." The piece tells the stories of the unique advertising campaigns of an agency hired by the Colombian government to encourage rebel soldiers to demobilize. The piece engaged my interests in advertising, applied in an unconventional and emotional realm. The full text and audio of the podcast can be found on the This American Life website.
POETRY OF PROPAGANDA
book, poster set
I started by familiarizing myself with the context for these campaigns, researching the conflict in Colombia and the demobilization efforts. This helped me strategize an approach to the content, and determine what information was necessary to include in my book. I also researched historical uses and styles of propaganda, using this as inspiration for both form and typography.
I spent quite a bit of time cutting and organizing the text of the podcast, determining logical sections and key phrases to call out. I ultimately decided to break the text into three parts, telling the stories of the three key propaganda campaigns. I researched more about these three stories, collecting photographs and articles, and determining themes that united them. Overall, each campaign had a uniquely emotional message that I wanted to be sure to express.
To authentically convey the content, I wanted to reach beyond a traditional book for the format. Fold-out newspapers provided really interesting play of levels of reading, and evoked associations with mass-produced posters common to propaganda campaigns. However, this required quite a bit of consideration for layout and printing. Printing options were limited, and content spreads were somewhat restricted due to the required white border. I had to create quite a few diagrams, dummy books, and mockups to really nail down the most effective flow of content.
The form did present engaging opportunities to present each story on a scale of reading levels. Each piece contained a full poster, cover, back cover, mid-level spread, and full fold-out four-page spread. Once I determined a successful hierarchy among these surfaces, I was able to apply that system to all three stories.
Book One: "Operation Christmas"
Book Two: "Rivers of Light"
Book Three: "Mothers' Voices"