Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in

White Flight: Complexity, Optics, and Visualization as Evasion

Speaker: Ted Byfield, Parsons the New School for Design, New School University. Moderator: Nick Seaver. Abstract: Information design and data visualization are often justified with appeals to heroic formulations like "massive flows of data." Yet when stripped of their data, they reveal a comically simplistic set of representational forms. These forms are almost invariably level, balanced in proportions, and measured; as such, they tacitly suggest that, however confusing or catastrophic the data may be, at least the enclosing framework is stable, rational, and manageable. In this regard, visualization can be seen less as a bold step forward to engage an informatic future than as so many emblems of a nostalgic attempt to distance and fence in "complexity" by means of naively simplistic forms. From the chronological diagrams that inspired William Playfair through the rampant experimentation with visualization today, much evidence suggests that the drive to create images of data involves an effort to create imaginary spaces into which observers can flee from anxieties about their cultural and historical position.

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments.

July 13, 2010 10:25
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files

6729 times

More from humanities + digital Visual Interpretations conference May 2010

Splendor, Destruction, and the Shift from Awe to Action in Environmental Documentary

Splendor, Destruction, and the Shif...

Added over 6 years ago | 00:11:28 | 28413 views

Data Visualization in Digital Storytelling: The Map is Key

Data Visualization in Digital Story...

Added over 6 years ago | 00:07:17 | 9283 views

Closing panel, part 1 of 3

Closing panel, part 1 of 3

Added over 6 years ago | 00:24:13 | 9179 views

Viewing and Navigating the Historical Context of News

Viewing and Navigating the Historic...

Added over 6 years ago | 00:10:58 | 8781 views

Visualizing Musical Citation Networks

Visualizing Musical Citation Networks

Added over 6 years ago | 00:20:45 | 9464 views

Qualitative, Metaphor-based Frameworks for Information Visualization

Qualitative, Metaphor-based Framewo...

Added over 6 years ago | 00:27:13 | 9717 views