August 11, 2012
Still from Getting Lost video by Marco Bagni.
Telling stories and communicating the heart of that story to a listener, reader or viewer has always been a fun creative challenge. When data and information are the stories you are trying to create understanding of and connection with, the challenge is greatly increased. I love this motion graphic piece by designer Marco Bagni. It immerses us in the types of information and visualizations that have become part of the new language of dataviz. The video shares the insight that the only way find your own path is to get lost first. For me, this is an important way to approach life. From traveling, to starting a relationship, to designing, or writing, I find that the more I allow myself to become lost, the more amazing the result.
The sensation of being lost is something many of us feel when confronted by pages of lists, numbers and statistics. The development of data visualizations and info graphics have really helped tame that sensation and allowed story to be released from all that information. But something too much of a something tends to bring down the whole thing. While these visualizations are often beautiful ways of seeing data and can even be truly transformational, collectively they begin to have the opposite effect for me. When I start to see a info graphic appear in an article or presentation, I start to glaze over and will zip past it unless something really compelling grabs my attention. That’s the same thing I used to do when I was confronted with the lists of data and statistics on their own.
I have started to look for new ways that data and information can be relayed both to be be understood and allow for connections to be made. I am not advocating for moving past the era of dataviz or inforgraphics, I am urging all us to use them more sparingly and to develop ways to have them engage the audience beyond simply wowing them with the art and creativity of presentation. Ultimately, my goal is to have the idea I’m working to express be more memorable than the manner of delivery.
September 7, 2011
I just discovered this video, actually my wife showed me, that really grabbed my attention and kept it. Part electronica pop song and part science documentary this is no ordinary music video. This one, and others by Symphony of Science (musician and producer John Boswell), weave together the words of many of the world’s greatest scientific minds into a sonically catchy and visually stunning three minute piece. I just watched four in a row, and I’m supposed to be working right now.
Like the wonderful work of visual remix artist Nick Bertke, aka Pogo, who has been off creating remixes based his travels through different cultures, Symphony of Science aims to tell the story of science and discovery by making these science documentaries accessible in a new way.
These remix mashup collages are often very enjoyable and I’m starting to see some evolution in the work generated. Story is starting to emerge from the soundbites and snippets that are woven into the sonic and visual layers. As this happens more these video works will take on a new life and maybe define a new genre. Today these videos occupy the space created by pushing music and films together in creative ways. Adding storytelling to this mix and you might get a Venn diagram where the mashup lives at the center of the three and provides new original content. This would be a musical machinima where new stories are told using a combination of existing films, music, remixing and creative inspiration. I look forward to seeing these videos move beyond eye, ear and mind candy and become more intentional and meaningful storytelling.
February 8, 2011
I first wrote about a great Retro-Modern mash-up in April of last year but, unfortunately it was only a very imaginative April Fool. But, like all those who dreamt of an iPhone on Verizon’s network, good things come to those who wait.
A few weeks ago I was browsing articles about the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and saw this New York Times article touting the debut of an iPad-based old-school arcade game. A few clicks later and there was a Wired Magazine report from the floor of CES showing the iCade in action.
I know that gaming graphics, technology, theory and well, everything, has advanced light years since these arcade games from my youth (also, the parents of today’s youth). None-the-less, nothing beats the simple pleasure of flying my cursor-like ship through the featureless sky and blasting barely-drawn asteroids to bits.
This example seems to appeal to all types with its combination of the iPad and Atari games. Case in point, this photo is from Martha Stewart’s blog.
Maybe what’s at the heart of all Retro-Modern things is their ability to briefly transport us somewhere. At their minimum they give a wink or nod toward the long-ago relics from our past. At their best they provide a connection between our ever-changing current lives and the feelings we had for all that we once thought would always be there.
November 19, 2010
The true size of Africa. - Kai Krause
I remember reading that the average per-capita GNP of the industrialized world is around $27,000 while Africa’s is $528. I felt shocked at the extreme disparity. Because this information was simple and concise it was immediately clear that this disparity in wealth was severe.
Every day we read or hear about all manner of complex global issues. With that much information these issues become abstract and motivating people to act on their behalf of any of them can be a major challenge.
Over the past few years there has been a tremendous growth in creativity and expression with infographics. Their ability to elevate, enhance and convey the meaning within information can be a powerful tool. These depictions allow us to experience the data or facts in a way that can communicate impact and elicit a meaningful connection.
For example look at the many pressing and critical issues across Africa. Contrasting all the news about the fully comprehensible South African World Cup were the ongoing reports of genocide, piracy, war over natural resources and the continuing devastation brought on by HIV, malnutrition, corruption and water shortage. It’s too much to expect of anyone to comprehend the impacts of any single one of these issues. And it’s even harder to imagine how all of this can happen in a single place. This inability to convey the true size and scope of the place we are talking about is part of the challenge to addressing the issues themselves.
Earlier this month Economist published an article featuring an infographic created by famed interface designer Kai Krause. He developed the graphic to fight “immapanncy” or the distorted view that most people have regarding the true size of continents around the world. The distorted view can also distort our sense of what any region can contain.
The map above clearly shows how large the African continent is compared to other countries. Seeing the vast size of Africa makes it easier to comprehend how one place can have so many challenges. Then consider that 8 of the world’s top 10 economies are among the many countries that would fit within the borders of the world’s poorest continent.