Current practices for the processing and rendering of data are changing the very nature of story telling. Information Design tends toward contextual, rather than linear, display, breaking the tradition of the classical model in which a story has an orienting beginning that advances toward a climax and conclusion. This disjointed, yet coherent rendering, allows readers/viewers to ascertain their own “story” from the aesthetic representation presented. Of course linear stories have been modified into, or supported by, photographs, charts, diagrams, and other “non-linear” devices for eons. What has changed is the availability of massive data sets to work with, and the commensurate digital cross-platform tools that can be applied to the data.
Experiments that were once only performed by well-funded labs can be generated by dedicated individuals—an ever increasing number of “information makers” creates a self-enriching baseline that we may all draw from. The tools we have today allow for the rapid development of modeling and re-modeling data; discovering underlying patterns by which it is formed, or can be formed—and experimenting with cross-discipline (unfamiliar) renderings. The articles that compose this issue of PJIM touch on these three areas: development of the dissected story into a cohesive whole, rendering data —that is usually visually conveyed—into sonic form; and applying massive amounts of data to underlying patterns toward the goal of detecting actionable intelligence about environmental degradation.
Jihoon Kang, Publisher, and William Bevington, Editor-in-Chief
Parsons Journal for Information Mapping
by Samuel van Ransbeeck, PhD
by Jean Gardner, MA & Jose de Jesus, MFA
by Robert Capaldo
Composition, MaxMSP, modularity, sonification, stock market, Yahoo Finance
DataScapR is a toolbox for stock market sonification in an artistic context. Using real-time and historical data, composers and sound artists are able to use stock market data in their practice, whether that is an artistic or scientific one. DataScapR allows the user to use real-time and historical data and map these data in myriad ways to musical parameters. The mapped data can be used to control VST (Virtual Studio Technology) or MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) instruments. Furthermore, DataScapR allows the creation of traditional notation scores. As such, DataScapR lets the user harness the dynamics of the stock market and create interesting sonic results.
This paper describes the background and motivation behind DataScapR, explains the different modules and operations, and shows some examples. Finally, future directions are discussed.
Samuel Van Ransbeeck is a composer and is interested in working with extra-musical elements. As such, sonification is a logical road to pursue. In the age of Big Data, bringing Big Data and music together is an exciting endeavour. Samuel recently finished his PhD in Computer Music at the Catholic University of Porto, Portugal where he developed the DataScapR toolbox. Currently, he is working at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, where he is expanding DatascapR to use urban data as part of the MK:Smart project.
Buckminster Fuller, Gaia, geometry, systems, vital signs
Many of the “base geometries” found in nature’s patterns are consistent and scalable. Such patterns exist in many mathematical sequences, such as the “golden section,” or the Fibonacci sequence. For the purpose of this article we refer to all of these as part of the Geometry of Life. Both the science and the aesthetics of these mathematical constructs can be seen in physical forms; such as the “math mystery” of the beautiful Nautilus shell, clearly revealing the “Golden Spiral” when sliced in cross section. By applying these kinds of mathematical models to establish a norm, or gold standard, and then populating this design skeleton with data factors (such as aspects of water purity, air purity, resource extraction, etc.) we believe it would be possible to render useful geometric distortions.
By analyzing these visualizations unexpected opportunities to re-balance the natural forms that rely on the former balance. Importantly, as the renderings may detect emerging problems when they are still small, the system permits which resources are best investigated in order to mitigate greater catastrophe at a later date. This article suggests a concept interface for a Geometry of Life basemap that, when populated with appropriate information, would “distort” in such a way to visually reveal egregious environmental conditions, and the intensity scale of their interdependency.
“Earth, isn’t this what you want
Invisibly to arise within each of us?
Is it not your dream to enter us so wholly
there’s nothing left outside us to see?
What, if not transformation,
is your deepest purpose?
Rainer Maria Rilke
Jean Gardner (MA) is an activist, writer, teacher, public speaker, and visionary on Design for a Living Earth. She is an Associate Professor of Social-Ecological History and Design, The School for Constructed Environments, Parsons School of Design.
José De Jesús (MFA) is a sculptor, draftsman, teacher, and practitioner who believes in the learning and mindfulness that arises through an immersive studio experience, in other words, learning through making.He is an Assistant Professor and Curriculum Coordinator for Space and Materiality, First Year Program, The School of Design Strategies, Parsons School of Design.
Design practice, design process, grid-pattern, information design, information graphics, (the) space race
Information graphics are now part of the everyday visual landscape, becoming nearly as common as pictures and text. The central new ingredient is the diagram or schematic. Whereas classic journalism was textual, or text supported by photographs and captions, today’s journalistic practice is often supplemented diagrammatically. This means that the pure linear narrative is becoming “distributed” in chunks of text, image, and visual elements. The pure aesthetic of typographic practice must be supplemented by an aesthetic that deals with content that is no longer in story form. Instead, content is arranged (and rearranged) through a logic that builds from all aspects of context and relationships. Design and aesthetic play a significant role in this process; rules and standards for such diagram making are rooted, perhaps, in map making, yet remain quite flexible. Where accuracy is not a primary driver, other aspects of clarity, simplicity, and good communication practice supplement the notion of “accuracy.” The process proceeds through content and design development. This paper shows how content and design logic were applied, stage-by-stage, to display content that deals with the Cold War “Space Race” between the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (USA) from 1957 until 1969. The examples provide insight into design for non-linear storytelling.
Robert Capaldo is a senior enrolled in the Communication Design Program at Parsons The New School of Design. Since the summer of 2015 he has been an Information Design intern at Donovan/Green. At Donovan/Green he has been working to create infographics that deal with topics related to science and science fiction. For Robert, this project was a process of exploration in learning how to create complex visual narratives on a more structured level. As of 2015 Robert is working on his thesis to help non verbal children with autism communicate with the general public.