Leonardo Thinks: Data Seams and Data Dramatisation

Angus Forbes has just published this editorial in Leonardo Journal- there is an interesting

grown in research and practice that looks at data vizualisation in a larger context of what is sometimes called data dramatisation- there are new jobs for data curators and data architects emerging !

roger malina


Data Seams: Curating Conversations at the Intersections of Art and Visualization Editorial by Angus Forbes © ISAST For the past 3 years, I have organized the IEEE VIS Arts Program in collaboration with co-chairs Lauren Thorson, Fanny Chevalier and Daria Tsoupikova. IEEE VIS is a yearly forum where researchers from academia and industry gather to present advances in scientific and information visualization [1]; its Arts Program, or VISAP, has become an important destination for media artists working with data as a primary material [2]. The success of VISAP can be attributed in part to our emphasis on the fundamental reason for situating an arts program within a scientific conference: providing opportunities for artists and researchers to engage in meaningful conversation. Our peer review system requires reviews for each submission to be contributed by an equal number of experts in media arts and in visualization research. This ensures that every accepted artwork and paper submission is relevant to both of these intersecting communities. Each year, we introduce a general theme that encompasses current topics in visualization research and in media arts, providing open-ended questions to provoke interdisciplinary thinking. For example, in 2013, we focused on the theme of experimentation. Visualization research encompasses not only data representation but also the development of interaction techniques, explorations of display aesthetics and examinations of applied perception. Increasingly, empirical justification for new visualization techniques is derived through well-designed experiments. We asked for submissions to investigate the intersections of experimental design and creative experimentation. Could an art installation produce experimental results? Can an artwork be expressive, challenging and conceptual, yet simultaneously rigorous, practical and empirical? The visualization community has recently explored new ways to indicate uncertainty, to accurately portray the provenance of the data and to use narrative techniques to transmit information more effectively. For VISAP’14, we asked that submissions explore concepts related to the theme of interpretation. Can artistic practice offer insight into thinking about the effective interpretability of complex data? Conversely, can visualization research offer quantifiable methods to artists seeking to investigate and represent cultural phenomena? An ongoing topic in visualization research is how to best represent and reason about information that changes over time. New visualization techniques strive to facilitate the effective observation and analysis of complex data streams. Simultaneously, there is a rich history of computational artworks that explore the dynamics of real-time data systems: social media feeds that erupt with new content, robotic architecture that can acknowledge movement or emotion, and compositional algorithms that respond creatively to live inputs of sound or gesture. The theme for VISAP’15 was improvisation. Can artistic exploration offer insight into the effective representation of time in visualization research contexts? Complementarily, can the advances in visualization research present new opportunities for artists to think about the creative coupling of data to meaning? The VIS Arts Program encourages participants to think about the cultural relevancy of visualization research in broader and alternative contexts. More pragmatically, it provides a space for proposing ideas that cannot yet be easily formalized in terms of the core IEEE VIS scientific agendas or for presenting new creative ideas that have not been (or that resist being) rigorously evaluated. By clearly articulating themes of mutual interest to participants interested in both artistic and research outputs, we facilitate richer, more contemporary conversations about data visualization. New developments in visualization research may generate new artistic ideas, and artistic exploration can generate new avenues for research [3]. An essential component of VISAP are the publication opportunities that make it possible to disseminate the work to a wider audience beyond the weeklong IEEE VIS conference. We are pleased to present works and articles from VISAP within the pages of Leonardo and look forward to continuing the conversation about the intersections of artistic and scientific research with the Leonardo community.

References 1. 2. 3.

Angus G. Forbes, “Articulating Media Arts Activities in Art-Science Contexts,” Leonardo 48, No. 4, pp. 330–-337 (2015).

—Angus Forbes Leonardo Editorial Advisor Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago Electronic Visualization Laboratory Email: Web: http://evl.uic.edu/creativecoding