Week 4 – assignment

A thought on the reading 

The more I do something possibly called a data visualization, the more I realize every single step related to it – choosing, collecting, analyzing, omiting, highlighting, parsing, making an interaction, and even choosing a color must be a result of certain choice whether a designer intends to do it or just do it instinctively. I agree what the author said about the rhetoric power that “we accept charts as facts because they are generalized, scientific and seem to present an expert, neutral point of view.” If I choose to visualize a certain information in a form of one of standardized data visualization instead of writing it in a blog, it suddenly seems to secure objectivity as if it is printed in a scientific journal. I was first fascinated by its visual beauty, and later on, I realize its responsibility from my experience that people who saw my work hardly try to contest or verify it.

I found out it’s a much more hard work to empty a canvas with visualization than fill it. In order to not fill up, I need to read and understand a data much deeper. It’s a similar discipline with the first thought the author mentioned to some degree. Most of the time, I intentionally got rid of nulls or missing data to make it more consistent and clear on what I intended to show. Sometimes I feel like I just find a way to fit the data to complete a piece of work rather than tell the truth. As it’s mentioned if we think more about “how designers make decisions about representing uncertainty, including zeros, nulls, and blanks”, we will be less tempted into perfection in visualizing and get a little bit more close to integrity.

In terms of “making dissent possible”, I always wonder why there isn’t even a comment function, which is a primitive form of interaction in the web environment, in most of an interactive visualization work. This might be one of proof that an expert regards a work as flawless fact without realizing it. I believe we put much more effort to question not just the conclusion of a data visualization but also every single element of it, and it would be the true strength of so-called interactive visualization. For example, we could think of different usage of the tooltip, one of the most ignored functions in interactive visualization. What if we use a tooltip as an area for commenting by audiences about every element in the visualization as a mutual exchange of opinions? It would give an opportunity to build collective effort to understand better on the data and discover more perspectives never achieved by a single designer.



Final project plan 

The final project will be the part of my thesis project.

-Background of the project

I am always interested storytelling and a great source of inspiration have been moments of lives found in physical space. It was natural that photograph used to be my favorite medium because it allows me to capture a slice of reality in a surreal way, recreating a sort of poetic narrative with a rich context of a random moment at random place. But as I grew older and spent more and more times in digital space, I became more to take my surroundings for granted and to be a less sensitive person. So I have tried various experiments in digital space that eventually give us reasons to experience physical space more again.

When I came to ITP I was fascinated by data as a medium for storytelling because it seems another type of poetic representation about a slice of life. If taking a photograph is a type of micro way to see it, visualizing data might be macro way to do it. But the disadvantage of working with data is that it happens in digital space, so the more I do it, the more I am alienated from physical space. Even though a final visualized piece is often mapped into physical space such as installation, the preparation process for data for visualization(collecting, analyzing, contextualizing), which takes much more time, is conducted in digital space in most cases. So I wanted to find a way of how those process can more relate to or even take place in real places.

Over the course of research, old paintings in East Asia, works by Jenny Holzer, Ben Rubin, and Robert Montgomery inspired me to investigate how idea, thought, or emotion in a form of text projected on physical space enrich context of nature, public space, mundane surroundings and therefore make people engage more with them. The World of Reverie is an experimental approach of how participating in a processing data can augment relationship between human and place.

With a given corpus as raw data inspired by certain place, users can create a spatial poetry by juxtaposing a phrase from the corpus with a scenery with the capability of Augmented Reality. The first prototype is for myself and those who live in and travel to New York City. There are 18,163 phrases from 451 lyrics inspired by the city as raw data. While users walk around New York City with the app,  they can enjoy improvising a poetry about every corner or the street by selecting two keywords, which is a momentary response to a certain place, to bring a phrase. Choosing and situating a phrase users think it fits a moment and place is a process of processing their personalized data. While users enjoy their poetic creation, they simultaneously participate in collecting, analyzing, contextualizing the raw data to create their personalized dataset about the place they explored. The entire process itself becomes the way of experiencing physical space more and deeper by rediscovering endless context of them.

Throughout the project, I hope to get out of my limited world, experience more places, engage with them more deeply, and create a dataset about my conversation record with New York City as a form of spatial poetry. As next step, it could be expanded into other cities so that users can have their own poetic experience with their physical space.

-Final project: mapping the dataset that I created

As below I have been writing poetries situated in the places in New York City. Whenever I write a poetry, I save it as a datum including a verse of poetry(phrase), one or two keywords that I choose to bring a phrase, and information related to a place and a moment such as geo-coordinate, time, and weather.

I’m not sure yet which aspect of the dataset I will focus on, but things I consider are,

  • If I categorize them by location(e.g. Upper Westside), can I find how my recognition(or appreciation) varies from each area?
  • If I categorize them by time or weather(e.g. morning & rainy), can I find how the condition affects my recognition(or appreciation) of the city?
  • If I compound of verses and try to make it into one completed poetry, what would it look like? and how I can keep the geospatial value of it without using a map?


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