Visualisation – making the invisible visible…

Visualisation is the aesthetics of publishing data. It involves communicating in a visual register through data based images.

Visualisation is not the same as photography. Photographed images give us a visual ‘recording’ of a space, time, place, or thing. Visualisation, however, goes a step further than simply recording what physically exists or that which can be seen. Visualisation makes the invisible visible, or gives the formless form.

Here is an example of visualised data making the invisible visible. Underskin, by Sam Loman, is an infographic that traces the routes of eight different systems within the body (digestive, respiratory, arterial, venous, urinary, etc.), and highlights the major connection points.

Information Aesthetics is a weblog that explores this field of information visualisation by collecting projects that represent data or information in original or intriguing ways. It reflects the popularity of visualisation as a form of publishing.

Certainly one type of visualistion becoming a fixed feature of the current online experience is the information graphic. Info graphics attract some criticism on their credibility and accuracy due to their over-saturation of the web and how easily one (any one) can make them using dedicated info graphic creation web programs. However, part of the info-graphics popularity is because readers are constantly looking for the quickest way to obtain information, and info graphics can often communicate complex topics quickly and efficiently whilst being aesthetically pleasing.

This infographic has a very detailed and large collection of information on the top earners for world football. It showcases crisp graphics with vibrant colors that pop from a neutral gray background; and makes information very easy to find.

Aesthetics is a key word in 21st century media and culture, as visual sources tap into a specific cognitive section of the brain that affects our senses. Image + information helps people to see or understand things that maybe they could not before and can lead to greater information retention, or motivation to understand.

A nifty example of visualisation with the aim of motivating people to understand their daily consumption of power is new project ‘.Blush’ (Dot Blush).

This project is about visually rewarding the tenants of a building for lowering their daily consumption of power.

“.Blush re-imagines a building equipped with an energy management system to be covered with spots or freckles. When the combined energy usage of the building falls below a certain level, the outside walls become flushed with pink. The spots on the façade change colour, reminiscent of a person blushing with pleasure. The more energy is reduced, the more the ‘skin’ of the building changes hue.”

By visualising the activity of energy consumption, something which is largely invisible to us all, this project changes understanding of the issue with the goal of motivating people to use less energy in a fun and aesthetic way.

Visualisation is useful for many aspects of modern publishing, but finally, if nothing else, visualised data be can a little bit of fun too! (Take the below, did you know that the record for the longest sword swallowed by a female is 69cm! more fun facts below).

Human Storage - Facts and Figures info graphic

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