Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in Create Account

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. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

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

6031 times

More from humanities + digital Visual Interpretations conference May 2010

Visualizing Musical Citation Networks

Visualizing Musical Citation Networks

Added over 5 years ago | 00:20:45 | 8715 views

Collaborative Cave Drawings of Social Interactions: Simple Visualizations of Complex Phenomena

Collaborative Cave Drawings of Soci...

Added 5 years ago | 00:25:50 | 10279 views

Citizenship in the Age of Complexity

Citizenship in the Age of Complexity

Added over 5 years ago | 00:09:55 | 7613 views

Scripting Writing and Reading in Jim Andrews's Digital Poems

Scripting Writing and Reading in Ji...

Added 5 years ago | 00:19:23 | 11038 views



Added 5 years ago | 00:07:55 | 6853 views



Added over 5 years ago | 00:11:08 | 9148 views