"Dad's Cancer: A Multimedia Illness Narrative Experiment" juxtaposes a personal, emotional narrative about cancer with scholarly work about technology, memory/remembering and the illness experience, suggesting that the emotional and epistemological can co-exist with surprising results. The project explores how multimedia can powerfully translate stories of pain and crisis, lending voice to the silent experience of illness. Using an unlikely narrative and visual format – the comic book – as its jumping off point, "Dad's Cancer" suggests that the comic form can offer an opportunity to literally "draw" one's memories into being.
This digital story was created as an experimental third chapter of a thesis project that investigates how the Internet and other new technologies enable individuals to use humor and other kinds of "cancertainment" to reclaim authority over their illness, refigure their relationship to those with cancer and those without, and reimagine how society should make meaning from cancer as a disease and as a social and personal experience.
The author is deeply indebted to Brian Fies, author of Mom's Cancer (http://www.momscancer.com), who inspired this work.
While I'll admit that this piece grossly oversimplifies several very complex political issues and takes a particularly harsh view towards urban revitalization, I also think it offers some illumination upon the ways that race and diversity are employed as marketing constructs, as well as upon the incongruous relationship between diversity as a romanticized commodity and diversity as a real social formation.
This piece was my final project for a visual research course from May 2007, in which we were asked to provide a visual but theoretical critique of a selection of visual texts. My texts, obviously, are the billboards around DCUSA, and my approach is influenced largely by neomarxist theories of ideology and commodification.