Typing World Data
Maps of international relations
Big Data is one of the main paradigms of the digital revolution our society is currently experiencing. Nowadays information is one of the most valuable asset you can possess. Despite the fact it could look like a pure technical fact, data is also leading a whole movement in the design world. Manuel Lima started a huge debate with his Information Visualization Manifesto, which tried to set the differences between information design and information art. Lima argues that information visualization (also understood as information design) should transform data in order to make it more accessible for the audience. The main goal is telling a fact, not creating a pleasant picture where form takes the main role. On the other hand, information art takes data as a starting point to create a piece where aesthetics are the most important part. However, the author also defends that both fields can coexist and learn one from the other. While Lima was defining a clear differentiation, he blurred the border. This manifesto aroused much controversy, even the author had to do some rectifications and clarifications. Where is exactly the limit between an informative and an artistic piece?
This controversy quickly caught my attention and became the reason why I developed this project. Here the goal is not to follow Manuel Lima’s manifesto. The main aim is to try to create confusion, even irritation, through experimentation. To play over the line which separates form and function. When does data become just an excuse to create an expressive piece? When does information loose its meaning? In two of the posters of the series — What the world worries about and Friends & Density — the balance falls on the information design side. However, in the two other ones — Mapping world calls and International Flights — data is just the spark that ignited the fire. Also, I would like to remark that all this process has been leaded by typography. Playing with readability and meaning have enriched the game.
As a conclusion, it is important to remember that this work it is not about clarifying data, but about exploring the border between art information and design information. This is not about understanding, but about reflection.
MAPPING WORLD CALLS
Phone calls are in their twilight. They should be seen as the most important relic of the last decades and one of the most precious rituals we have inherited from the 20th century. Nowadays Skype, Facebook or Whatsapp control international communications. However, due to the end of roaming in Europe and the decreasing prices of call tariffs, maybe we are witnessing a phone call revival.
This poster is based on an infographic belonging the DHL Global Interconnectedness Index 2014. The sentences are extracts from an article by Kathy Gilsinan.This piece is a “free” interpretation of such document created just with typography. The distortion and placement of letters and words turn readability in an effort for the audience, emphasizing the aesthetic function of type instead the functional one.
FRIENDS & DENSITY
You are nobody if you do not have a Facebook profile. This statement could look controversial, but it’s not really far from the truth. Made with data from Facebook and the NEO/NASA, this descriptive map shows the relationship between Facebook users and population density. Here function stands out over form, being this map an example of information design. The contrast between dense and empty areas on the poster increase the power of meaning through graphics.
It’s surprising how both parameters almost fit perfectly. Only some spots as Rusia or China haven’t been dominated by this powerful social network yet. The hunger for information has even colonized Africa. We can conclude that belonging to a social network seems inherent to the human kind nowadays.
WHAT THE WORLD WORRIES ABOUT?
The G20 is meant to be the head of the world. The group of people who will determine the future of our planet. Being Hamburg its welcoming city this year, it is an excellent opportunity to analyse the concerns of these countries. This event is one of the most important international meetings of the year and leaves nobody indifferent. But, how much do we really know about these countries? Are their populations happy? Does power mean happiness? Does it depend on wealth the kind of worries they have? Are they taking care of their citizens’ worries? Do these countries share common problems?
This poster is made with data from the Hapiness World Report 2017 and a chart made by The Data Team published in November 2016 by The Economisy in the arcticle What the world worries about.
Taking a plane has lost all the paraphernalia of the early days. No more dressing protocol, anxiety or exclusiveness. However, airports are still strange locations, non-places, as the french anthropologist Marc Augé stated. Locations where the people remain anonymous. Also, while you are flying the land you are crossing is unknown to you. There are still some highlights, like landings, which are quite difficult to get used to. Taking a plane will loose all the mystery soon, but until then, each time we can expect something.
All this feelings described before are represented in this poster. Based on real data from James Cheshire and openflights.org, this abstract representation of information stands in a purely aesthetic plane.
This research was carried out in January 2017 during the course Typography: manifeste taught by Heike Grebin in HAW Hamburg.