Writing Rights is a set of diagrams that graphically and spatially visualise the parliamentary debates that led to the formulation of the Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789). The Declaration, containing a short preamble and 17 clauses, (eg. ‘Men are born free and equal in rights’) provides the foundation for many modern human rights. Writing Rights captures the complex, contingent and improvised nature of the Declaration’s formation through a series of diagrams created by Jacquie Lorber Kasunic and Kate Sweetapple in collaboration with historians at the Humanities+Design Center at Stanford University, The visualisations allow the debates to be read associatively, comparing and connecting the political tensions and linguistic struggles that were obscured by the layout of the original documents. Critically, these diagrams allow historians to see anew the alignments, compromises and theoretical propositions in the ratification process. Writing Rights demonstrates the potential of visualisation to reconceptualise historical texts, opening up alternate modes of textual inquiry.
Writing Rights project appears in a Special Edition of Studies in Material Thinking which focuses on the materiality of design research. The project was also presented at the AAANZ Conference at the Australian National University (2016) and the ISECS 14th International Congress for Eighteenth Century-Studies in Rotterdam (2015). A video of the project is also available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLpGHT1n4-mAt0fgnvPgbq1RB6YNsdg7QM&time_continue=8&v=ew7Ek-hNO18