Infographics inspiration

As a group, we will all be working on separate methods of communicating the data we collected in our recent study. I have chosen to go with a printed graph type format. In this post I will explore the inspirations I have found and the outcomes I have created as a result.

I remembered from a long time ago seeing a video game which had unique playable characters. Each one was set up to excel at certain things which a player would pick based on their preferred play style. The characters would all be graded on various attributes and abilities such as dexterity, speed or strength. I don’t remember specifics, but the graphic used to convey this was very interesting.

They looked something like this. The closest thing I could find to a name for this was a character attributes web or chart. The appeal to me was that based on the skill of a character in various areas, they would be given their own unique shape. This simple geometric shape would hold a huge amount of information about them given its apparent simplicity.

This model is interesting in its methodology, but the examples I have found are rather aesthetically lacking. They will form the basis of my design, but I will certainly make major changes to the imagery.

This is a clip I trimmed from an existing Youtube video. The content is not mine and all relevant attributions are visible in the subheading beneath the video. Please don’t sue me.

While a trap remix of the Star Wars theme tune is certainly interesting. What I was interested in was the music visualization unique to the Trap Nation brand. As the beats hit a vivid colour spectrum pulsates from the circle, deforming it and adding to the experience. This is something I want to draw from. It contains the visually pleasing element that the attribute charts above are lacking.

If I can combine these two things and create my chart from it. I think I can create something that takes the best elements of both.

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Creating our Infographic

We were set the task of creating a study, collecting the data and formatting it into an info-graphic of our choosing. Our subject of study was entirely up to us. I remembered a study of human psychology I had seen of television a long time ago. It took an in depth look at the human tendency to obey authority figures.

The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. They measured the willingness of study participants, men from a diverse range of occupations with varying levels of education, to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a “learner”. These fake electric shocks gradually increased to levels that would have been fatal had they been real.

The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of people would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology[1] and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.

En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Milgram experiment. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [Accessed 19 Jan. 2018].

In short, this experiment was designed to measure how much a subject would go against their own moral judgement when a person of perceived authority instructed them to. The answer was a lot.

 

Based on this, our group decided to do a similar study, only in a far less macabre manner. We decided to create ‘Out of Order’ signs and stick them to the doors of every women’s bathrooms in our block. We intentionally made them look unprofessional to really push the boundaries of the authority they may hold.

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We were shocked to find that despite the homemade and unofficial appearance of the signs, a huge proportion of people obeyed their imperative.

Do not use

Our next task will be to each display this information in our own preferred graphic style. I have already decided on a visual, printed model, which I will follow up on in my next post. While Joe and Annie, my group mates, are planning an animation.

Information is Power – Excercise

In our first lecture on information design we were asked to answer a series of random questions on numerous subjects. Each group would be given the answers collected from each question and asked to create a graphic that would appropriately convey the data therein.

Our question was ‘Who would you want with you if you were stuck in an elevator?’ The answers were very wide ranging and so we decided our first task would be to form them into rough categories. We grouped them into:

  • Close friends
  • Loved ones
  • Celebrities

We then decided on a colour to represent these groups. Each group’s information would be set on its own coloured background. Each answer would be represented by a vertical line. This seemed appropriate as the study concerned being stuck in an elevator.

In our first category there were two answers ‘My best friend’ and ‘My dog, Buzz.’ We decided a line created from a series of small circles would represent Buzz, the dog. And since we had no information to contrary we assumed the other individual was human and thus was represented by a simple vertical line.

Some answers were far more specific than others. Those which contained information about gender led us to create a symbol in the center of that individuals line. Male was represented by a jagged line and female, a more rounded one. We continued in this manner until we had displayed every piece of information we were provided.

(IMAGE TO GO HERE)

My thoughts 

Our introduction to information graphics has really gripped me. The subject is a very knowable quantity. I feel that I am able to take something quantifiable and make it visually pleasing. A graphic designer’s job has always been to affect people’s perception of a piece of media. I love the idea of taking something as mundane but practical as a pie chart of a bar graph and making it into a kind of artwork while not detracting from its basic functionality, the conveyance of data.

Information is Power – Introduction

In this new term we are continuing with field work. For this term I have been placed in the group ‘Information is Power’ which explores the role of a Graphic Designer is creating Info-graphics. Our first introduction to the topic was a look back at the origin of info-graphics.

Image result for florence nightingale infographics

An info-graphic designed by Florence Nightingale. In the 1850’s she developed this graphic which was a circular histogram that she called a ‘Coxcomb’. The purpose was to illustrate the number and, more importantly, the different causes of deaths soldiers suffered during the Crimean War. The graphic illustrates difference between;

  • Red – deaths caused by wounds,
  • Black – deaths from other causes, and
  • Blue – deaths caused by diseases.

This was simply one of many examples of information being streamlined in order to make what could be a disorderly and confusing series of figures, into a quick and easily conveyed method of information cataloging. The reason I chose this example is its age. Info-graphics would have struck me as a relatively new creation.

The distillation of information into a simple, manageable format like this is clearly very practical and there are numerous methods to do this and wildly varying outcomes, all with distinct advantages to them. Some are more accurate, some convey more information. They can all be sorted into four catagories

  • Infographics
  • Data Visualisation
  • Models & Diagrams
  • Visual Thinking

Each has its place. They all seek to distill and clarify information in a visual rather than text based format.

Circle Line – Film progression

Recently in our groups we have begun to edit together the footage we accrued during our trip on the circle line. We had captured such a large volume of video, stills and audio recordings that the first stage was simply to categorise and trim our work.

My primary role in during our expedition up the valleys was as in the film direction. I had set out a number of goals we should attempt to achieve on the day in order to give us a direction to move in once we began the editing process.

We decided that we wanted to focus primarily on a select number of themes in our video compilation. We felt that a solid and codified manifesto would be detrimental to our process in that it may well have stifled our creativity and hemmed us in to following certain paths. While the option of changing our manifesto subsequent to our direction changing, that would somewhat defeat its purpose in the first place. However, our key goals to focus on were:

  • Contrast –  in every respect. We wanted to juxtapose light and dark, smooth and rough, exaggerated, psychedelic colours against monochrome.
  • Abstraction – We aimed to avoid a linear, contrived view of the subject we were capturing. We wanted to achieve this by overlaying one scene on another and having them share the screen. As well as this we wanted to intertwine the contrast of moving images with still, bright and dark.
  • Texture – We made sure to take many closeups of texture, smooth and rough, natural and industrial. The way to really connect with the past of the area of Pontypridd and Ton Pentre, as far as we were concerned, was to explore its makeup in depth. The valleys area is famous for its heyday; the era of the industrial revolution. Much of the stonework and general infrastructure remained but in a somewhat weathered and dilapidated state. This is what we sought to capture. The rich history or an area which has somewhat fallen from prominence in the modern day.
  • Closeups – The intention here was to have a majority of extreme closeups, the reasoning behind this was, as stated, to capture the depth and texture of our subject. As well as this, the close-up shots would be designed to make a viewing audience wonder about the wider context in which the shot sat. The idea being that the audience be drawn in and become invested in finding out more.
  • Wide Shots – These would be intermittent and sparsely spread. The idea behind this was to provide snapshots of the landscape in which these more focused shots sat. They would act as a macro view while the closeups would dig deeper into the fabric of the places we filmed.
  • The Human Element – This was something that I pushed for my group as I felt it would set our work apart from that of the other groups and give it a depth and feel that would be quite unique. When we set out on the trip, there were copious amounts of tripods, gimbles and other camera accessories to aid in creating cinematic shots. I have to admit I was astonished at the work of some of the other groups. However I wanted to create the sense of human experience. A camera filming a robotic panning shot doesn’t give the audience any sense of the person standing behind it and operating it. I wanted people to see the area as we saw it. Complete with the human interaction with the recording equipment. I wanted background conversation and laughter in some of the audio clips and the slight shake of a hand held camcorder.

With regards to the filming itself. I am pleased to say I think my group performed admirably and fulfilled all the key goals they set.

 

Circle Line – Research

In preparation for editing and refining our footage into a polished video we have been provided with a decent amount of reading material on psycho-geography as well as a number of examples of work by notable figures in related poetry and abstract film making.

One task we must complete in our groups is the creation of a manifesto outlining our intentions and approach when creating our film. What we want to convey, the perspective we want to bring and how we intend to go about the process. Here are some notable examples of past works that I found enlightening.

“Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye
unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the
name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life
through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of
grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘Green’? How many rainbows can light
create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heat waves can that
eye be? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and
shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable
gradations of color. Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word…”

– Stan BRAKHAGE Metaphors on Vision (1963)

This is a fascinating example of a manifesto for abstract film. As with many disciplines, the artists vain hope is to achieve a perfection which, although they may draw ever nearer to, they can never fully achieve. The manifesto expresses a desire to find that utopia of unbiased and pure vision that would allow an audience to see what is in front of them without making any judgement about it. The act of simply viewing the world from the perspective of  neutral observer.

I have struggled throughout this module in understanding the role of abstract media, I have always liked things to be conventional and to provided a curated experience. But this manifesto really expresses the need for an entirely unformulated look at the world.

 

“It is difficult for us to understand why joint problem-solving must be the
unique aim of transdisciplinarity. It is certainly one of the aims, but not the
only aim. The human being is – or has to be – in the centre of any civilised
society. Are we allowed to identify Knowledge with Production of Knowledge?
Why the potential transdisciplinarity has to be reduced to produce “better
science’? Why transdisciplinarity has to be reduced to hard science?… In
other words the subject-object interaction is at the very core of
transdisciplinarity and not the object alone. Much confusion arises by not
recognising that there are three types of transdisicplininarity: theoretical,
phenomenological and experimental.”

Basarab NICOLESCU: “Transdisciplinarity as Methodological Framework for Going Beyond

It has become clear that as we undertake this task, we must leave many preconceptions behind. This must include our position in our chosen academic disciplines. A key element of our progression in the project is an understanding that being a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Fine Artist or Product Designer is no longer relevant to the extend we expect. We have all learnt to specialise and we must put that learning to one side. While we each have skills that the others lack or are less honed. We must think beyond that.

I myself am a Graphic Designer, but for the purposes of this task I cannot let that define me. I cannot simply look at everything from a Graphic Designers eyes. Each of us must forego that norm and learn to be, as far as is possible, a mere observer. In my discipline I have, to a great extent, a methodology and a process by which I take in information and process it to come up with a conclusion or a solution. The same is true of the other disciplines. We must all try to see through one another’s view and leave of preconceptions behind.

Circle Line – Documentary Film Making

Our brief for this latest Field module is to create an abstract documentary style film that’s brings a unique and introspective vision of the Circle Line. 

We want to take an in-depth look at the connections between Cardiff’s industrial wealth and it’s sources, reflecting shifts in understanding of landscape and recreation. We started by drawing a line from Cathay’s Station in Cardiff, up to the far end of the Brecon Mountain Railway.

We recently made the journey by train to Pontyridd and then on to Ton Pentre, collecting footage and meeting the composers on the way. Much of this footage was made using rented equipment. But for illustrative purposes I captured some on my phone.


It was rather difficult to try and think outside the box with this project. In my group’s manifesto, which I will post in a later blogpost, we agreed we wanted to make a concerted effort to focus on texture, contrast and the changing light throughout the day.

One handicap we all felt keenly, was we were primed to capture footage in the way we knew. From TV and other media we all knew well. But our whole task was to create something unique. Thus, a lot of cliché shots were off the table and we found ourselves second guessing our work in order to be certain it wasn’t something that had already been done to death.

Here are some features of Pontyridd that I found worthy of capturing. One of its key historical talking points is that it is the point where the Rhondda river feeds into the River Taff that leads down to Cardiff and on to the sea. As a result it was for many decades, a key hub of industry, with much conveyance of materials and goods made via the rivers.

From Pontyridd, we then moved on up the valley towards Ton Pentre. Our reason for visiting was the disused Bethesda Chapel there.

On our visit we learned a lot about this very old chapel and the role.it plays in the history of the area. Ton Pentre is a tiny village of around 1,000 people and this chapel could have seated every one of them were it still in working order.

As you can see, the building as fallen into disuse and is rather delapidated. However it is being slowly restored.

With the footage and audio recordings captured on this trip, my group is well stocked to create an exceptional piece of work to feature in this year’s Circle Line video. Our section will be just a minute long and we captured hundreds of images and hours of footage to draw from.

We were asked to, in groups. Come up with another nearby reference point from which to draw material and tie into the project. My group has chosen Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon. This seemed ideals it is nearby, connected strongly with the areas industrial past and we all have empties of visiting it in the past.