From abstract to actual: art and designer-like enquiries into data visualisation


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 9 August 2011



(2011), "From abstract to actual: art and designer-like enquiries into data visualisation", Kybernetes, Vol. 40 No. 7/8.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

From abstract to actual: art and designer-like enquiries into data visualisation

Article Type: Special issue abstracts From: Kybernetes, Volume 40, Issue 7/8

Michael Hohl

School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to suggest that physiological experience can contribute to the comprehension of visualisation of scientific data, especially artistic approaches.

Design/methodology/approach – A number of relevant case studies are used to establish the rationale.

Findings – “Objective” or neutral data visualisation does not exist. Every visualisation process relies on human definitions or mediation. Based on this premise, interdisciplinary collaborators can use methods from design and art to actively design the usability of data visualisation together with their perceived aesthetic, ambiguous and imaginative dimensions in order to create a multi-layered human experience of data.

Research limitations/implications – Physiological engagement in combination with rich, ambiguous experiences are no substitute for scientific data visualisation but an evocative medium for the public communication of science, such as at science centres or science museums.

Practical implications – Clear support of interdisciplinary collaborations and systematic application of methods to create aesthetic experiences from scientific data.

Social implications – Potentially novel, engaging and evocative sensual experiences with data visualisations around themes, such as climate change, sustainability and ecology.

Originality/value – The paper suggests that systematically complementing methods from art and design in order to emotionalise intellectual experiences could be considered an unorthodox yet highly effective novel approach.

Keywords Data visualisation, Information arts, Design methods, Interdisciplinary collaboration, Phenomenology, Embodied interaction, Arts

Paper type Case study

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