Students from L’École de design took a closer look at a subject they chose. Using publicly accessible data (open data), the students sharpen our civic and critical perception by representing it in image form. The aim here was not simply to produce graphic or cartographic representations, but rather to create astonishing images which will aid understanding and help people remember a phenomenon.
Displayed during the event Datarama #3 / Data Party - Nantes Digital Week 2018, the audience was invited to vote for the best Datalogy project. Claire Marboeuf and her datalogy on the situation of poor housing in France received most votes, followed by Simon Le Roux on meat consumption in France. Winners will receive the autographed book Data Design. Les données comme materiau de création*, by David Bihanic.
Contextualizing and staging data
Far from being fixed or frozen, data is a raw material that can be constantly reutilized, transformed and reinvented. First and foremost, datalogy consists of contextualizing or, more precisely, “staging” data. You have to read, try to understand, interpret, cross-reference, re-examine and discuss in order to depict and “imagine” it. And then you realize that a picture is worth a thousand words, but that it is (really) not easy to create… Although the aim is to create an image that is easy to read and memorize, its apparent simplicity hides a complex design process: Which elements of reality should be used? Which situation, which metaphor, which emotion for which data? And how can we simply show something without explaining or condemning?
The images from Datalogy 3 reflect this complexity: in some cases, it is the nature of the figures which makes their “datalogical” transposition difficult, in other cases it is the challenge of translating sensitive human situations which don’t easily lend themselves to the exercise. But the common characteristic of all these images lies in a desire to make visible these figures, this otherwise hard-to-see data.
Open data – or the opening-up of public data – is a movement which follows the principles of an open, innovative and living democracy. Nevertheless it is not enough to simply make raw data available. It requires directors and producers to give it meaning so that, more than just the aesthetic aspect, this data tells a story, explains the world, turns reality into something that can be felt and seen. Connecting men and women, producing meaning, making the complex accessible.
*Data Design. The Data as a Creative Medium