This week started with a lecture on visualization and physicalization of data and how that can be used and has been used to make information easier to grasp.
Almost ten years ago I fell in love with a visualization of the 2008 credit crisis. I still think it is pretty good but it today the visuals feel a bit dated. The nice thing about it is that it explains a very complex problem in a simpler graspable way.
I made some infographics over the years but I never made anything very interesting or good. I can make nice illustrations but when it comes to animation i fall short. My biggest deficit was probably the lack of understanding for the concept I tried to visualize. I never got enough time from the clients to make a really informed infographic and I think that is probably the most important part of it. You really hae to research and get into the finer details of a concept to understand what is really important and worth bringing in to the visualization.
Physicalization seems to bring a new set of problems. Not just what parts of the information do you want to give form. You also have to decide how it should be experienced, as the physical form gives it opportunities and challenges that are not present in graphics. Should the weight of the object reflect something? Should the audience pick it up? Is it an experience or an object? There are so many possibilities.
Having the real world presence can also give sculptural qualities and it makes me think of art and installations but with a message. I guess this could be just as the relationship between art and visual communication. Calling physicalisation of data art is probably an insult just as a nice book cover can be beautiful, but it's not art. Even so my thought go there, and even more when talking about dynamic physicalisations. I start to think of fluxus and how some artists painted with acid on plastic that melted away.