The conceptual framework for the Mapping the Attica Collection project will rely on visualizations that will supplement and reinforce the information in a short essay on how archival silences were created in the object collections when the evidence was collected by New York State Police Investigators in September 1971.
The primary visualization will feature a map illustrating the locations of artifacts collected within the Attica State Correctional Facility based on information derived from New York State Police evidence tags. The map visualization will most likely consist of density bubbles to visualize the preponderance of materials collected at certain locations within the prison facility, but also to denote several outliers.
The secondary visualization will most likely be a bar graph for the large number of items that were collected by police investigators but never tagged. While we can confidently assume the vast majority were collected in D Yard, these untagged items reflect the theory that state authorities were primarily concerned with materials that would be incriminating against the rebellious prisoners in future prosecutions more so than concerns over standard police evidentiary techniques and practices.
The project will also include a Knightlab timeline of the events between September 8 and 13, 1971, to provide historical context for those unfamiliar with the Attica Prison Uprising, and a short video compiled with visual materials from various repositories concerning the excessively violent reassertion of state control at the prison that brought the uprising to a conclusion.
The essay will tie the concepts of archival silences raised by Michel-Rolph Trouillot with the materials written about the events at Attica (both official and academic) including the McKay Commission Report, the Meyer Report, Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water, and Malcolm Bell’s The Attica Turkey Shoot.