This assignment asks students to choose one or more texts of a total of no more than 100 words, and without altering the text, create a convincing typographic argument in any medium, guided by the principles of classical rhetoric. Tutor: Jason Grant.
Cheyanne explains: “The Parental Lie Kit expresses the damage that little white lies have on children. The aim of the Kit is to engage parents, persuading them to be honest with their sons and daughters. These lies often occur when parents are attempting to escape an awkward situation or simply to make their children happy. Parents believe in teaching their children to tell the truth, but in reality most parents are guilty themselves of uttering these sanctioned untruths.”
Influenced by Fluxus kits, Cheyanne has built a mock polygraph instrument that comes with a collection of ephemera cataloging common ‘white lies’ and justifications.
The polygraph kit attempts to elevate a parent’s half truths and harmless exaggerations to the status of mendacious subterfuge and fraudulent deceits. Polygraphs are typically associated with unearthing criminal guilt so the machine aims at syndechdoche in revealing ‘little whites lies’ as more a serious manipulation.
The appeal here is pathos and ethos, but perhaps more logos would have been more convincing. Including evidence of the negative consequences of manipulating trusting children might have helped counter a dismissive parents tendency to defend their parenting. This is all leaving aside the intrinsically problematic nature of truthfulness, not least in relation to child-rearing, when, as any parent will testify, formally rigid realities melt faster than arctic sea ice.
The humanist and monospaced typography evokes an instructive, scientific authority that also sells the Kit’s subtle humour. Nearly as funny as a cynical baby bonus.