An Exploration of Information Visualization

Contemporary society bombards us with visual messages. Product advertisements, news pictures, medical images, and directional signs all demand our interpretation, or at least attention, to navigate through our daily lives.

An important aspect of this visual culture we live in is data visualization and information graphics. With the incredible amount of raw data available to us at the beginning of the 21st century, visualization techniques offer a way to interpret and represent the world around us.

Paradoxically, these information visualizations can both serve to enlighten and to conceal. Whether purposeful or through ill-used technique or due to the illiteracy of the audience, data visualization is not necessarily a reflection of the "whole truth" but rather a targeted slice. This paradox is excellently portrayed by the work of M.C. Esher, whose mathematically based images presented a uniquelly twisted vision.

This project was originally conceived to directly address these issues of representation. The original proposal for this project, states the intention to create a prototype web site the will "allow users to easily access and juxtapose multiple data types and sources. Implementation will employ standard web technologies including Java and HTML. The design will require addressing issues of site navigation, interactivity, and modularity. The modularity will support flexibility in data set usage and data visualization parameters."

Through the course of our explorations into how to accomplish this goal, a new picture has emerged. The scope and breadth of issues to be addressed is huge: data sources, data types, graphic concerns, interpretation methods, and target audiences to name just a few. In truth, the project became much more of an exploration of a vast subjection than an application of technique to create a final product. This website is an amalgamation of our findings: critical inquiry; examinations of techniques, and visualization experiments.


>>Escher and Perspective