Data Visualisation and Media Content

The Rhetorical Art of Data Visualization by Jeremy Pilcher/ Data Visualization and eco-media content. Media Art produced at Digital Narratives workshops by Karla Schuch Brunet and Juan Freire/ Designing a way to visualize the invisible through the dynamic illustration of conversations by Natalie Erika Ebenreuter
Sunday, 18 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:00
Chair Person: 
Mahir M. Yavuz
Karla Brunet
Jeremy Pilcher
Natalie Ebenreuter
Juan Freire

Data Visualization and eco-media content. Media Art produced at Digital Narratives workshops


by Karla Schuch Brunet and Juan Freire

This paper presents an analysis of the material produced during the “Digital Narratives for community participation on coastal ecosystem management” workshops held in Garapuá, Brazil and Aguiño, Spain ( It is a reflection on the themes and contents identified and collected by the teenagers. Alongside our analysis tries to facilitate the exploration of the materials to users and to identify topics and problems relevant to the participants, their communities and territories.

Here, art and ecology get together to produce a visual and conceptual narrative of these peoples’ lives, culture, economy, religion, territories, landscape and so on. The workshops were facilitated by a group of artists and scientists that worked together to get a picture of these two places and see their connections, similarities and discrepancies.

Art, being here a subtle form of communication and protest, uses data visualization to empower community members allowing them to visualize, and realize, facts there were sometimes misplaced, or hidden, or forgotten. The cataloguing and careful handling of the media produced during the workshops has a key role in this visualization. At the same time, we explore the software and graphical possibilities of this visualizing process. Concluding, in this paper we propose an analysis, conceptual and aesthetical, of the content and its visualization.

The Rhetorical Art of Data Visualization


by Jeremy Pilcher

Visualization as a technique of analysis has been employed by a wide range of disciplines in order to better understand large quantities of data about systems. The malleability of data and information in digital form, together with the interactive potential of real-time technologies, has made the use of the technique on computers and the internet particularly effective. The value of data visualization is generally understood in terms of the accuracy of the representation. This approach to the technique may commonly be identified in the way in which data visualization, when employed as a social critique in activist art, has been interpreted. Such art work on the internet has focussed attention on, for example, the use of the internet by corporations to acquire data in the pursuit of power and commercial gain. However, understood in these terms, the artistic use of data visualization has been criticised. The value of the technique to engage artistically with the immersion of societies in data flows whose speed and intensity have been accelerated by the internet has been doubted. Questions have been raised as to whether or how its use by art may be differentiated from visualisations effectively employed by other disciplines.  I will propose that data visualization in art, instead of being approached in terms of whether it is a truthful representation of the world, may be understood to have rhetorical force.  My argument, using the work of Jacques Derrida, is that art may open a critical awareness of the value-systems and hierarchies of importance that give rise to the networks and data flows that are visualized. I will focus specifically on the way that legal systems enable the creation and enforcement of certain types of entities and relationships, such as corporations and their directors. Internet art may allow viewers to reflect on the justice of the system being critiqued through the interactive visualization of the contingent and finite networks that are represented. In doing so, internet art may allow for the arrival of what an existing social order has to occlude in order to maintain its existence without change.

Designing a way to visualize the invisible through the dynamic illustration of conversations

by Natalie Erika Ebenreuter

This paper discusses the creation of a multi-modal data driven prototype application called the Conversation Viewer. Designed to visually represent the evolution of a conversation through a dynamic touch based graphical interface, it illustrates various elements of participants’ email, text and voice messages as they seek to find a mutual agreement around a meeting date. The basis of this research was designed to explore the manner in which visualizing the invisible relationships between various individuals and the information they wish to communicate could enable meaningful relationships to develop. It also takes into consideration the ever-changing schedules and situations that directly impact the nature of agreements in dynamic communities.

Managing the elements of this exploration and the design of the prototype application required the reexamination of the Conversation Viewer’s functionality, usefulness, usability, visibility and resulting form, which departed significantly from the way in which interactive products are commonly envisaged. The approach taken is indicative of a shift in design thinking that marks a clear difference between designing a product that fulfils a distinct purpose or is determinate in its facility, to one that carefully considers its design and utility for diverse ways of thinking and acting. For that reason the intended purpose of the Conversation Viewer, was not simply to send and receive digital communications, but to facilitate a contextual understanding of dynamic interactions and different forms of agreement that are illustrated throughout the evolution of a conversation.

This research highlights a necessity for designers to carefully consider the dynamic treatment of a product’s content with respect to the form of design outcomes because of the consequences that can arise from a narrow conception of the purpose of products or services. By way of example this design case study highlights the difference between designing for determinate products that follow standardized rules and innovative products or services that support the changing conditions of long lasting design situations.