Making Visible The Invisible

FALL 2012

Making Visible The Invisible: Data in Art and Design, was a workshop held at Fabrica in September 2012 surrounding the use of data as a methodology and source of conceptual inspiration in developing art and design projects. Six groups of residents and external participants executed unique projects over three days collecting, analyzing and visualizing different sets of data. Data sets ranged from the visual elements of contemporary graphic design composition of posters, to the color pallet of the most expensive paintings in the world, to the number of times workshop participants used the "undo" operation on their computers and why.

Residents were challenged over a three day period to source or collect a set of data, analyze that data for it's interesting characteristics, and then transpose it's qualities either visually, audibly, or spatially. The resulting representation should reflect those characteristics in a way that it becomes reverse-readable to an audience and achieve a perspective on the data that was previously unobtainable.

The first day consisted of a lecture by myself on the history of data visualization and how representations of data have been used in the sciences, arts, and design world, and how each field has contributed to the others. Covering the use of data in visual representations dating back to the 1700's, the lecture was an overview in the evolution of how data has contributed to the wealth of human knowledge and the varying ways it has been represented over time. After the lecture, groups of residents and external participants from varying disciplines gathered to discuss their personal interests in data subjects as well as begin to look at what data was readily available or accessible to collect.

The second day was focused on representations for data and how participants of each group were interested in transposing the data they decided upon. Most representations resulted in a static visual form, as it's generally the most straightforward to execute. Some executed animations over data sets, and others created software that would dynamically reorganize data based on the characteristic of primary interest.

The third day was spent finalizing representations. Groups rushed to develop the software they were using and refine their representations, as well as put together a final presentation that was given in front of the rest of the workshop participants.