Project Brief


Infosthetics is the area in which art and information collide, where simple forms can represent complex content through abstract graphical and sonic presentation of data.

Both the web and our immediate environment are rich sources of activity and connectivity that can be turned to visual and sonic means through programmes like Flash, Jitter and Processing, and be made interactive via a range of external interfaces.

David McCandless describes his book Information is Beautiful as a “modern day [information] map-book” (McCandless, 2009). He asks, “[can] maps and charts still be exciting and readable? [Can they] still be fun? Can you make jokes in graphs? Are you even allowed to?” (ibid.)

In a TED Talk (see links below), McCandless describes his work as ‘knowledge compression’. He attempts to design information so that it makes more sense, tells a story and allows us to focus only on the information that is important.

Interactive Infographics and Sonification can reveal patterns, connections and landscapes of relative context. Context can be enhanced by comparison with other datasets, and enhanced by filtering.

Ben Fry sees data as a moving target (Fry, 2008) and asks “How do we interact with ‘live’ data? How do we unravel data as it changes over time. We might use animation to play back the evolution of a data set, or interaction to control what time span we’re looking at.”

Aims & Objectives

  • Develop and present data visualisation and sonification from any suitable dynamic data sources
  • The work can be screen/projector based and/or tangible
  • The work should present a narrative/thematic construct
  • The work should be interactive
  • The work should be visually and sonically engaging

Learning Outcomes

  • Awareness of data mashing/mapping
  • Approaches to visualisation and sonification
  • Interface design
  • Interaction design
  • Object-oriented programming and data parsing
  • Realtime visuals generation and processing
  • Realtime sound generation and processing
  • Hardware hacking
  • Video editing
  • DVD authoring
  • Collaborative and Teamworking skills

Practical Outcomes

  • Blog / Screencasts / Vodcasts (1st Submission)
  • Projections / Installation (Presentation Week)
  • DVD / Website / Booklet (2nd Submission)
  • Individual Comment and Critical Reflection (3rd Submission)

The first submission should include a demonstration of data acquisition/filtering and basic generative visuals or sound from supplied data

The presentation should be made using any available resources, such as an array of imacs, projectors, speakers or tangible surfaces.

The second submission should be an edited review of your project that contains group documentation.

The third submission involves individual analysis and critical reflection in the form of a short essay / article on a particular
feature of your project

There is an additional allocation of marks for attendance at events, tutorials and discussions and your individual contributions


  • Fry, B. (2008) Visualizing Data: Exploring and Explaining Data with the Processing Environment, Sebastopol, CA. : O’Reilly
  • Klanten, R. (2008) Data Flow: Visualising Information in Graphic DesignDie Gestalten Verlag
  • Maeda, J. (2004) Creative Code, London : Thames & Hudson
  • Maeda, J. (2000) Maeda@Media, London : Thames & Hudson
  • McCandless, D. (2009) Information is Beautiful, London : Collins
  • Steele, J. and Iliinsky, N. (2011) Designing Data Visualizations: Intentional Communication from Data to Display, , Sebastopol, CA. : O’Reilly
  • Steele, J. and Iliinsky, N. (2010) Beautiful Visualization: Looking at Data through the Eyes of Experts , Sebastopol, CA. : O’Reilly
  • Tufte, Edward R. (2006) Beautiful Evidence, Cheshire, Conn. : Graphics Press
  • Tufte, Edward R. (1990) Envisioning Information, Cheshire, Conn. : Graphics Press

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