Collecting & storytelling
Maps, graphs and information graphics. Everyone who has ever gone looking for information has come across them and used them to get informed or informed others. We often rely on them to be neutral and objective carriers of information that can supports line of argumentation. Like any designed object or technology, bias seeps into visual genres of representing information.
Whose voices are made important? Whose are left out? This week we will explore how alternative formats, historical awareness and critical design principles can help us unsee perceived neutrality of maps, and open opportunities for other stories and other forms of knowledge to be represented.
Study the following before class:
D’Ignazio, Catherine (2017) “What would feminist datavisualization look like?” VisionsCarto. 23 January. Retrieved at: https://visionscarto.net/feminist-data-visualization
Pater, R. (2016) “Information Graphics” in: The Politics of Design. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers: p. 151-161.
Vet, A. de & Bujdosó, A. (2011) Subjective Atlas of Hungary. Budapest: Kitchen Budapest, HVG Könyvek.
We will do critical mappings of the Knowledge Mile (the area between Nieuwmarkt and Amstel Station). Each group will pick a topic from the list below, and go on a datawalk together. You will create a visual representation of your datawalk that tells a compelling visual story about the data you collected and the area you explored.
On the walk you will collect the “data” you will use to then create a visual representation of the area around a particular topic/angle/perspective. Record your data through a combination of: note taking, drawing, mapmaking, voice recording and photographing.
Make a map of the Knowledge Mile…
- for a homeless person to use
- for a blind person to use
- for a person who uses a wheelchair to use
- to do an ethnography of people’s window sills
- that shows places for public announcements (commercial, public, personal, illegal)
- that shows places where you can buy a healthy meal under €5
- that shows commissioned and uncommissioned art works
- that shows street security cameras
- that highlights gender bias (in imagery, slogans, street names etc)
- that shows places of worship
- that shows the type of cuisine you can find on the Knowledge Mile
Make groups of 4 and decide who does what, and also decide who navigates. These are the roles to be distributed:
A) Notetaker: takes notes of observations. Interviews passers-by
B) Photographer: takes photographs of data, data infrastructure or other
C) Collector: identifies and collects objects illustrative of the group’s process
D) Drawer/Mapmaker: draws maps and visual notes of the group’s path through the city, noting data and observations.
Go on your data walk! It should take about 2 hours. Source: Alison Powell's method for data walking: http://www.datawalking.org
PICK A TOPIC & MAKE TEAMS
DO A DATAWALK
MAKE THINGS VISUAL, TANGIBLE, AUDIBLE
After collecting the data on your walk, each data walk group splits into 2 pairs. Each pair creates one map/visual representation of your datawalk. The point of departure is this HEMA leporello harmonica book (12x7cm). Recreate it as a starting point, and experiment by modifying it, making add-ons, paper engineering, pop-ups, cutouts, sliders, etcetera.
For this assignment you will use the laser cutter to make a tangible, 3D object (the leporello) that tells a story about your data. You can also use the vinyl cutter or other tools and techniques available to you. Optional: you can also opt to make a digital/interactive/hybrid map, in that case connect it to a tangible paper postcard that you create with the laser cutter.
This assignment is an exercise in paper engineering, vector drawing, making constructions, researching, mapping and analysis. But also: team work, craftsmanship and (visual) aesthetics.
window sill ethnography
EXAMPLES FROM LAST YEAR
Frida and Anton
Barbara and Kristin
Geert and Melvin
Barbara and Kristin