Our second year starts off with four fantastic projects. The first two projects in this issue focus on concepts of creating a perception of our surroundings through visual and auditory inputs. Each presents a novel manner to visualize a landscape and sound-based mapping—one with the scale of New York City and another to a community festival. While diverse in methods and scales, these projects offer a unique view into spatial mapping.
Our third project is a fun and interactive way of visualizing political dialogue (utilizing speeches from the 110th United States Congress) with a set of animations similar to the popular JibJab cartoons. Our fourth project is a somber yet beautiful art and visualization installation discussing the effects of war. Together, these two pieces discuss the simultaneous power and fragility of individuals and words within larger dialogues.
Brian Willison, Publisher
Parsons Journal for Information Mapping
by Ivan Safrin & Christian Marc Schmidt, MFA
by Dr. Tom Davis, PhD & Nicholas Ward, MSc
by Dino Citraro, BA & Kim Rees, BA
by Sayoko Yoshida, MFA
Collective consciousness, data visualization, gestalt, information art, interaction, interpretive, mapping, typography
The city is a composite of impressions. Beyond the built environment it is a constantly changing pastiche of associations and experiences—not just of the people who inhabit it, but of the larger community. New York City embodies two realities: the reality of the physical environment, and the reality of the idea that the city and its diverse neighborhoods signify. Inseparably intertwined, these two realities continuously inform each other. Pastiche is a dynamic data visualization that maps keywords from blog articles to the New York neighborhoods they reference. The results are geographically positioned and navigable. Keywords surround their corresponding neighborhoods and are assigned based on relevance. The result is a dynamically changing description of the city formed around individual experiences and perspectives.
Conceptually, Pastiche is a parallel experience of the city, a map that not only documents, but suggests action. It is a public counterpart to the private physical architecture of the city. Its source is an aggregate of individual blogs; Pastiche is a system that anyone has the ability to contribute to. It defines a new kind of public space, while both proposing an experience and inviting comparison. Through the use of Pastiche one situates oneself in relation to an impromptu community formed around the idea of New York, and relates one’s own perspective to a large, collective subjectivity.
Christian Marc Schmidt is a hybrid interaction/graphic designer with a focus on the design of quantitative information. Having worked at the design consultancies IDEO and Pentagram, and currently an interaction designer at Microsoft, his experience spans the fields of information design, interaction design, and media installation. He honed his interest in working with information in the Communication Design program at Parsons School of Design in New York, and while pursuing his master’s degree in graphic design at Yale University. Christian’s approach is parametric and content-oriented, often resulting in the design of adaptive frameworks. His work has received recognition from organizations such as D&AD, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD), Communication Arts, Print Magazine, and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). Christian has taught in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University and was a visiting critic in the graphic design program at Yale.
Ivan Safrin is a Russian-born software developer and independent video game designer living in New York City. Combining his in-depth technical knowledge with a passion for game and information design, he strives to create novel and playful applications. He currently works as a senior developer at R/GA New York where he develops interactive experiences for Nike.
Activity sonification, audio topology, awareness display, sensual experience, user experience
This paper describes recent work on a largescale, distributed audio installation entitled Ordnance Survey. It explores problems associated with presenting an overview of large, complex data sets in real-time. This is accomplished through the creation of a spatially separate audio-visual environment in a manner that aims to provide an immersive experience of disparate events in a single locality
Ordnance Survey consists of an immersive audiovisual environment that is fed by a network of geographically dispersed sensors, these combine to provide an overview of activity from spatially disparate locations. These sensors may be considered as parasitic agents that feed on the activity in their local area—creating audio in relation to the proximity and behavior of festival-goers themselves, the weather, and the festival performers. This audio is transmitted back to a central listening room where it is used in the construction of a multi-speaker soundscape.
The soundscape, therefore, directly relates to the complex interactions that construct the weekend’s event; tracking disparate occurrences such as people’s movement around the site, audio from concerts and the regularity of toilet visits. In the dimly lit space of the listening room the audience is presented with simultaneous audio-visual experiences that directly relate and convey a detailed yet comprehensible representation of the whole festival. Tracking the flow of the observers and the observed, the installation provides an overview of disparate events all in one place.
Tom Davis is a digital artist working mainly in the medium of sound installation. He recently graduated from the Sonic Arts Research Centre in Belfast with a PhD in Sonic Arts. His practice and theory-based research centers on issues of Embodiment, Ecology, and Complexity in Sound Installation. Davis has exhibited work across Europe and has performed at festivals and conferences in Europe and the United States.
Nicholas Ward is a Belfast based interdisciplinary artist. His work is predominantly sonic in nature, exploring notions of mechanism and physicality though installation and performance. Ward is currently studying for a PhD at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queens University, Belfast.
Bifurcated mosaic plot, data visualization, Gov 2.0 speeches, information visualization, politics, strip treemap, tag cloud, tornado chart, U.S. Congress, voting records, word cloud
Congress Speaks is an entertaining, online exploration of the more than 14.5 million words spoken by the United States 110th Congress. Individual legislators can be compared according to what, and how often, they spoke, their congressional tenure, and their voting record. In addition, states can be visually compared by viewing: their party representation, party vocalization breakdown, and a state-by-state word count.
While exploring which topics are the most emphasized by individual legislators, interesting and unexpected words appear, such as: “wolves,” “slavery,” and “wilderness.” These kinds of associations are also revealed while exploring the words used for individual states.
In addition to being educational the site is entertaining. Visitors can pit legislators against each other to see who is more verbose. Each legislator’s mouth is animated and portrayed on a caricature of their political party’s mascot: a donkey for Democrats, an elephant for Republicans, and in the case of Independents, an ostrich. Congress Speaks even includes crowd reactions, unexpected animations, confetti, and balloons.
Dino Citraro and Kim Rees are partners in Periscopic, an award-winning interactive design and development firm, specializing in user-centric design with a strong focus on information visualization. The company’s work has appeared in several publications, including the 2009 Communication Arts Interactive Annual and in the Information Design Sourcebook.
Citraro is a 15-year veteran of the multimedia industry. His work has spanned interactive motion pictures, multi-player online games, immersive data visualizations, and interactive hardware installations.
Rees has over fifteen years of experience in the interactive industry and is a prominent individual in the information visualization community. She has spoken at numerous events including the cerf Biennial Conference, Tableau Conference, Web Visions, and Portland Data Visualization among others.
Data visualization, installation art, Iraq War Memorial, physical representation, requiem
The idea that a single death, followed or in conjunction with many deaths by the same cause, begins to diminish that tragedy, is in itself a tragedy. The increasing number of fatalities, the length of the conflict, and the controversial nature of the war diminish the importance of a single loss amongst people in the population at large. The statistics become so abstracted that sometimes it becomes difficult to grasp the content or the meaning of human loss. Thus, my intention was to transform the abstract data into something more tangible and perceivable in order to emphasize the impact of each single fatality. The War in Iraq is chosen as the subject of Requiem, an installation art piece, to illustrate the past, current, and ongoing ravages of war.
Sayoko Yoshida is a New York based multidisciplinary designer with a solid graphic design background. She earned her MFA from Parsons The New School for Design in 2009 while working as a Senior Information Designer at Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (PIIM). Sayokois constantly seeking possibilities to explore new interactive technologies and visualization techniques.