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Panel Session 4: Datavis in practice

Between Craft and Code – Exploring Affective Data Expression through Data Materialisation

Simone Gumtau, University of Portsmouth

This series of works seeks to explore the human experience in a world of data. Building on the field of data visualisation and embodiment, we are moving into multisensory and physical ways of making sense of digital information.

The data visualisations feature sample data from an industrial context, in this case sensor data reporting on the performance of engine parts on marine vessels. The design concept aims to utilize the intuitive perception of errors. Drawing on theoretical ideas of Gestalt theory, embodied metaphors and image schemata, this process harvests pre-linguistic user understanding – with the purpose of increasing the accessibility of the data. The abstract sensor data was translated back into a form related to the original analogue motion – which seeks to compensate for the ways that ship engineers used to apply their intuitive, sensory and tacit knowledge to diagnose ship engines.

For the purposes of the exhibition "Between Craft and Code" in Portsmouth (UK, 2015), the data was represented in 3 different sensory modes, to explore patterns and connections across the various modalities in producing and consuming these works.

 

Passim - Visual Reconceptualisation of Geopolitical Arrangements Under the Postdigital Paradigm

Paul Heinicker, University of Applied Sciences Potsdam

The master’s thesis passim of Paul Heinicker is a visual reflection of the humanistic discourse regarding space that connects the elements of design sciences and cultural theories. By research and implementation of four major spatial theories (absolute, relative, relational, and topological), the project proposes to understand space through a sociopolitical lens. The installation explores the relationship of these four notions by projecting visualisations of geopolitical data (collected from the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research) onto physical sculptures. The result of these reflections creates different world-views that represent self-aware images, in contrast to the usual biased techno-positivism of visualisations. These reflections demonstrate how notions of space directly influence recent geopolitical events (such as the refugee crisis), and how spatial theory can be used to rethink global political constellations. Eventually, the work reflects on a materialisation of hidden intricate ecosystems of our world and how spatial thinking influenced the ways that global political constellations are debated are communicated today.

 

Enlightened Infographics? Infographic Design and Workflow in Leading Papers

Anna Grossmann, University of Applied Arts, Vienna

This paper analyses the function and design of infographics in print and online issues of The Guardian, Die Zeit and Good. In particular it tries to answer the question whether to enlighten readers through the use of infographics is an aim formulated by these media and if so whether it is being met. For this purpose, a material-hermeneutic approach has been adopted to analyse samples from the aforementioned media. Otto Neurath’s Isotype-project also serves as a methodical and theoretical reference.

The results suggest that contrary to their issuer’s claims, infographics often do not educate but serve as entertainment. In addition to that, shortcomings in graphic representations suggest a weak quality management that stems from the workflow. Quotes from the graphic designers of the aforementioned infographics suggests that when graphics are made by designers who are uneducated about the subject matter, the visual aesthetics are prioritized over the information content, often flawing the content. This leads to the conclusion that infographic design is currently failing to deal with the contradictory relation of enlightened intentions and mass-media implementation. A remedy against this tendency could be found in the adoption of Neurath’s “transformer”-principle as well as in increased pedagogical efforts to foster „visual literacy“.

The paper is based on a 2013 Diploma (Master) thesis by the author at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna,

 

Hang On to Your Ego: Data Viz and Transactional Analysis

Jon Adamson, Rutland County Council, and Rob Radburn, Leicestershire County Council

Successful data visualisation requires a collaboration between ‘viz experts’ and ‘domain experts’. In this presentation we will consider the way in which data visualisation is produced and consumed through the lens of Transactional Analysis. We will consider the roles of ‘parent’, ‘adult’ and ‘child’ in the co-production of data visualisation as a tool for evidence-led service delivery in the public sector. Drawing on a range of examples we will critically analyse the objectivity of interactive data visualisation in contrast to alternative, traditional forms of utilising business intelligence in the public sector. We will show how data visualisation is moving from a back-room IT function to a ‘live’ tool for end-users. We will use the theory of Transactional Analysis as a guide for understanding the interaction between creators and consumers of data visualization and discuss the belief that visualisation makes data transparent and accessible alongside critiques of visualisation-as-control. We will conclude with observations on the benefits of an ‘adult-to-adult’ relationship in the production of socially useful data visualisation and share ideas for how to create the conditions to develop this.

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