Rani Molla – ScribbleLive http://www.scribblelive.com ScribbleLive is the leading end-to-end platform for content marketing engagement. Wed, 13 Jul 2016 18:26:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://s3.amazonaws.com/scribblelive-com-prod/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/favicon-91x80.png Rani Molla – ScribbleLive http://www.scribblelive.com 32 32 Mapping Out Literary Works with Where You Are http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/12/11/mapping-out-literary-works-with-where-you-are/ Wed, 11 Dec 2013 22:36:48 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/12/11/mapping-out-literary-works-with-where-you-are/ Data visualizations aid in the pragmatics of our everyday lives: navigating the subway, estimating expenses, keeping track of energy use. Visuals-centric book publishers Visual Editions has brought them to bear in the literary realm as well. With its release of Where You Are, a collection of 16 writings accompanied by 16 Read more...

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Data visualizations aid in the pragmatics of our everyday lives: navigating the subway, estimating expenses, keeping track of energy use. Visuals-centric book publishers Visual Editions has brought them to bear in the literary realm as well. With its release of Where You Area collection of 16 writings accompanied by 16 maps, VE augments how readers experience the textual narratives by including visual narratives as well.   For another layer of depth, Where You Are is available both off and online, with the help of web designers  The Workers. The online version allows viewers to see in real time how many other users are reading a specific piece and to literally see where they are in Where You Are. “We like to think of the site as an elongated version of the printed book, giving readers something they couldn’t experience with the printed book,” Visual Editions cofounders Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen told Visually in an email. “Whereas the printed book is an intimate, tactile treasure trove, the site brings a social and playful experience, showing where other people have come from, where they are in Where You Are.” Each platform has its own corresponding visual on the same stories. Both online and off, the fiction and nonfiction pieces pair with a wide variety of maps–broadly speaking–some real and others artistic renderings of narrative routes. The authors use these “maps” to illustrate their texts and to guide readers on an adventure.
Denis Wood — "The Paper Route Empire Mapping." The joint memories of a group of boys’ newspaper route trails.
  Peter Turchi uses the infinite scroll (in multiple directions) for a modern take on Choose Your Own adventure in “Roads Not Taken Life as a series of What Ifs. Valeria Luiselli illuminates vignettes of trips with her daughter to parks around Harlem with Polaroid images imposed on a satellite map. For “Tablescapes,” Leanne Shapton photographed and painted what her desk looked like at the end of emails to a friend. The illustrations shed light not only on her desk, but on her life. To explore the joint and conflicting memories of a group of boys, Denis Wood‘s “The Paper Route Empire” shows each of their conceptions of their paper routes.
Peter Turchi — "Roads Not Taken Life as a series of What Ifs." What if this had happened. What if that had happened.
  Visualizations like these allow the reader to jump back and forth between the text and its map for added background and dimensions. Think, for a basic example, of a supercharged family tree, available at the beginning of certain novels that help readers decipher familial relationships.
Valeria Luiselli — "Swings of Harlem." A map of daily trips to playgrounds around Harlem, with reflections on what it means to be a mother.
  Additionally, the presentation of these works, both in print and online, cause readers to rethink the linear narrative of most texts. Instead, readers/viewers can approach the stories in any order or from the visualization to the text, and vice versa. The experience is more playful and immersive than reading something front to back.
Leanne Shapton — "Tablescapes." Paintings of objects or “desk still lifes” on her tabletop at the end of every day.
  “The starting point for Where You Are is maps,” the Visual Editions founders told us. “How maps are changing. How we’re using maps in different ways. How maps are becoming less about how to get from one place to another and more about how we make personal maps every day. We were talking to one of the contributors the other day who said, ‘the great thing is there are really only a couple “real” maps in the book.’ Which made us smile, because yes, in a lot of ways this is true and the clearest sign of all that maps all around us are changing beyond recognition. So it’s less about data visualization in the traditional sense and more about the breadth of personal information and personal stories we map.” Where You Are book Website   Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at Gigaom. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Importance of Using Real Images in Information Design http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/12/04/warphotography-shows-the-importance-of-real-images-in-information-design/ Wed, 04 Dec 2013 19:00:39 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/12/04/warphotography-shows-the-importance-of-real-images-in-information-design/ We all know the cliche about pictures being better than words — but a good photo is worth far more. The lesson holds everywhere, from information design to art. WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, an exhibition of 400 photographic war prints by amateurs, officers and professionals, conveys elements Read more...

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We all know the cliche about pictures being better than words — but a good photo is worth far more. The lesson holds everywhere, from information design to art. WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, an exhibition of 400 photographic war prints by amateurs, officers and professionals, conveys elements of war that could not truly be expressed in text — you have to see it to believe it.
Nhem Ein (Cambodian, born 1959). Untitled (prisoner #389 of the Khmer Rouge, 1975–79. Gelatin silver print (printed 1994), 10¼ x 10¼ in. (26 x 26 cm). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Arthur M. Bullowa Fund and Geraldine Murphy Fund. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA Art Resource, NY. Used with permission of Photo Archive Group
Anne Tucker, one of the exhibition’s curators, refers to a photograph of a young girl screaming and covered in blood. “It’s heartbreaking when you find out the blood belongs to her family, but [even without knowing] you still you see this kid screaming and covered in blood,” she said. “It’s one thing to describe it to you; it’s another to see the child.” The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston exhibition, currently hosted at the Brooklyn Museum, features photos from 1848 to 2011. They can also be found in a lengthy catalog about the exhibition. Books, magazines, albums and camera equipment accompany the prints, which are ordered by theme instead of chronologically, to show how the same issues crop up again and again in conflict. “Because of what war is, certain types of pictures recur because those types of events occur over and over again,” Tucker said. Those images also don’t require explanation.
Alfred Palmer (American, 1906-1993). Women aircraft workers finishing transparent bomber noses for fighter and reconnaissance planes at Douglas Aircraft Co. Plant in Long Beach, California, 1942. Gelatin silver print, 7⅝ x 9⅝ in. (19.4 x 24.3 cm). The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; gift of Will Michels in honor of his sister, Genevieve Namerow
“If you have a news article about war and have a woman prostrate on a fresh grave, you get it,” Tucker said. “If there’s someone in uniform with a prosthetic leg, don’t need a caption. It’s self explanatory.”
Alfred Palmer (American, 1906-1993). Women aircraft workers finishing transparent bomber noses for fighter and reconnaissance planes at Douglas Aircraft Co. Plant in Long Beach, California, 1942. Gelatin silver print, 7⅝ x 9⅝ in. (19.4 x 24.3 cm). The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; gift of Will Michels in honor of his sister, Genevieve Namerow
The quality of imagery should be commensurate with the magnitude of its subject matter. It should also convey information as quickly as possible. News organizations have long known this and lead their cover stories and homepages with photos that, alone, tell their own story. It’s stunning visually and important ethically to show what’s really going on. Recently, news organizations have been taking these same lessons into infographics and data visualizations, to give the subject matter the import it deserves. A number of mapping software solutions, including Google Maps, allow users to upload images to augment the meaning of these spatial stories, such as map company Esri’s interactive story map of the key moments in John F. Kennedy’s life, illustrated with historical photos. Similarly, the New York Times interactive map of Typhoon Haiyan‘s destruction in the Philippines couples real life photos of Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction in the Philippines with a color-coded map of the severity. The Wall Street Journal has been putting out a number of graphic timelines that are illustrated with iconic photos of the story they are telling. Above is a timeline of the uprising in Syria, visualized with the backdrop of young protestors, political banners and physical destruction. As an information designer, if you have a powerful story to tell, make sure you have pictures that fit the bill. You’ll need to use way fewer words. WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath Brooklyn Museum Through Feb. 2 Featured image credit: Walter Astrada (Argentinean, born 1974). Congolese women fleeing to Goma, from the series Violence against women in Congo: Rape as weapon of war in DRC, 2008 (printed 2010). Chromogenic print, 14 5/8 x 22 ½ in. (37.1 x 56.2 cm). The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; museum purchase with funds provided by Photo Forum 2010. © Walter Astrada Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at Gigaom. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

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5 Design Lessons for Adults from Chip Kidd’s New Book for Kids http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/11/21/5-design-lessons-for-adults-from-chip-kidds-new-book-for-kids/ Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:00:40 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/11/21/5-design-lessons-for-adults-from-chip-kidds-new-book-for-kids/ Iconic graphic designer Chip Kidd recently released Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design. It’s an introductory text on graphic design for kids, but its lessons hold just as well for adults doing data visualization. As information designers, we’re caught at the crux between good data and good design–and to Read more...

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Iconic graphic designer Chip Kidd recently released Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design. It’s an introductory text on graphic design for kids, but its lessons hold just as well for adults doing data visualization. As information designers, we’re caught at the crux between good data and good design–and to create a good visualization, you must have both. Whether you’re a numbers person or a visual person, this book provides a great, quick overview of design basics as techniques. Go is filled with great design tips and considerations, but we pulled out a list of five lessons that are especially poignant for information designers, adults and kids alike.

Form Follows Content

This is the most important lesson in graphic design. Often, and correctly, we take that adage to mean data first. What some forget is the second part, form, and how that is completely reliant on our data. Alternatively, it can be tempting to use a particular data visualization because, well, you like it or it looks good. However, if you don’t consider the data, you’re liable to put a bubble chart where your bar chart ought to be. How do you figure out what to do? Kidd writes: “For any given design problem, you have to ask: What is this trying to do? What is the content’s purpose?” A data set — say, healthcare coverage by state — can often be visualized in a number of ways, depending on what your intention is for that data. If you want to show the states in which people are most to be likely insured, a ranked bar chart could be in order. If you wanted to see how regions stacked up, a heat map would quickly show viewers the problem areas of the country. To show viewers how their state relates to the average, you’d probably want to chart the states on a bell curve to see how far away they are from the mean rate of insurance in America.

Font

No matter how visual your design, it’s still going to have text. And that text, like the other elements of design, should fit with what you’re saying. “What letters look like can be just as important as what they say,” Kidd writes. “Part of creating any graphic design using typography has to do with what form that language is going to take.” Kidd suggests a nifty exercise in which you consider what typeface “feels” like you. While this is admittedly for kids, considering which font “feels” right is a good way to approach font selection. Following the tone of your visualization will help for a more cohesive project. The book also provides a good primer on classifying and recognizing fonts, as well as a brief history of typography. He also gives the subject of color the same treatment as font.

Get Inspired

Or rather, let others’ work inspire you. Kidd suggests collecting labels, packaging, posters or any other graphic design samples that appeal to you. Likewise, information designers should be checking out others’ work and trying step inside their shoes. Look at all types of data vis, especially that which appeals to you and consider: Why did the designer make the decisions she did? What could have been better? What should you try to do in your own work?

Attribution

A good visual — or bad, as the case may be — can travel a far way from its original source as people share it across the internet. While Kidd doesn’t spell it out, he does explain copyright and instruct kids to make their own logo with which to mark their work. Attributing your work — with your name, website, company — is beneficial to both you and your readers: It gives you the credit you deserve and it lets readers know where their visualization came from. Be sure to also always credit your data source. Transparency lets readers know what they can trust.

Don’t stop

OK, so this is a little sentimental, but it’s true. The best way to get better at visual storytelling and information design is to keep doing it. Each project will have its own set of unique challenges and it’s in the act of solving these challenges that you get better and broaden your internal lexicon for future visualizations. For more from Chip Kidd, check out this great interview with Design Matters, where he discusses his TED talk and the making of this book–the first of its kind for kids.  Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at Gigaom. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Data, Art and Environmentalism Collide at Cooper Union http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/30/data-art-and-environmentalism-collide-at-cooper-union/ Wed, 30 Oct 2013 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/30/data-art-and-environmentalism-collide-at-cooper-union/ Data visualization and art combine in EMISSIONS: Images from the Mixing Layer, a two-part exhibition at Cooper Union that rejects the use of natural gas as a sustainable form of energy. With the sponsorship of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, curators Ruth Hardinger and Rebecca Smith commissioned independent methane data company Gas Safety Read more...

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Data visualization and art combine in EMISSIONS: Images from the Mixing Layer, a two-part exhibition at Cooper Union that rejects the use of natural gas as a sustainable form of energy. With the sponsorship of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, curators Ruth Hardinger and Rebecca Smith commissioned independent methane data company Gas Safety Inc. to measure the levels of methane gas emissions throughout Manhattan. Gas Safety Inc. found severe leakage of methane gas—a highly potent greenhouse gas that’s the main component of natural gas—throughout Manhattan’s four thousand miles of aging gas lines, some dating to the 1800s. The result is a data visualization map that shows tall methane leakages, in red, all over Manhattan and rising high into the atmosphere. Curator and participating artist Ruth Hardinger says natural gas is marketed so that people don’t understand its consequences. Methane gas, which is at the center of our national fracking controversy, traps much more heat than other greenhouse gasses and thus contributes to global warming more heavily. “They say ‘natural gas is so clean.’ This is causing more damage than anything out there,” Hardinger said. She combined the visualization of the methane leaks with a print from her concrete sculptures “Envoys: Messengers of Methane.” The concrete above NYC’s layer of methane illustrates just how heavy the gas is. “We’re using visuals as information,” Hardinger told Visual.ly. “We’re using the weight of the concrete to compare the weight of methane. You wouldn’t get it if you just walked in and saw this,” she said, pointing to a separate standalone piece of cast concrete that’s not yet applied to the data visualization. Artist Rebecca Smith, EMISSION‘s other curator, also blends data visualization and art for “Mixing Layer/Atmosphere,” a to-scale model of the Earth’s atmosphere made of colorful tape that shows the levels and movements of greenhouse gas emissions. Christy Rupp and Joe Lewis take more artistic license in demonstrating the effects of Manhattan’s leaking methane on the environment through humor and collage.  Coleen Fitzgibbons screens a documentary film called “‘Natural’ Gas Emissions in NYC.” The exhibition is part of Marfa Dialogues/NY and also includes a panel Wednesday, Oct. 30 with a number of artists and environmental organizations to further mix art and data. EMISSIONS: Images from the Mixing Layer Through Nov. 8 The Cooper Union  Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at Gigaom. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

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If You Love “LOVE,” You Should Check Out the Rest of Robert Indiana http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/24/if-you-love-love-you-should-check-out-the-rest-of-robert-indiana/ Thu, 24 Oct 2013 17:00:50 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/24/if-you-love-love-you-should-check-out-the-rest-of-robert-indiana/ Robert Indiana has experienced something all designers think they want–until, perhaps, they have it. The pop artist came to widely known prominence with his 1966 piece “LOVE,” whose stacked letters and tilted “o” proliferated–without his permission–to become one of the 20th Century’s most recognizable pieces of graphic design. It came Read more...

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Robert Indiana has experienced something all designers think they want–until, perhaps, they have it. The pop artist came to widely known prominence with his 1966 piece “LOVE,” whose stacked letters and tilted “o” proliferated–without his permission–to become one of the 20th Century’s most recognizable pieces of graphic design. It came to symbolize many things—the ’60s counterculture, sexuality, a wide array of branding—but it never really fairly represented the rest of Indiana’s work, which is actually quite broad in its spectrum and not nearly as saccharine as “LOVE.”
Installation view of Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, September 26, 2013–January 5, 2014). © 2013 The Morgan Art Foundation, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins
The Whitney Museum seeks to extend Indiana’s artistic legacy by showing the artistic span of his work, in his first major American museum retrospective Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE. These works include not only his most well-known, such as “LOVE,” “EAT/DIE” and “Exploding Numbers,” alongside 75 other works that span media, subject and time (1955-2001).
Robert Indiana (b. 1928), Decade: Autoportrait 1961, 1972-77. Oil on canvas, 72 × 72 in. (182.9 × 182.9 cm). Collection of the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; gift of Robert L. B. Tobin. ©2013 Morgan Art Foundation, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
According to Curator Barbara Haskell, “Indiana’s exploration of identity, racial injustice, and the illusion and disillusion of love give emotional poignancy and symbolic complexity to our ever-evolving understanding of the ambiguities of American democracy and the plight of the individual in the modern world.”
Robert Indiana (b. 1928), The American Sweetheart, 1959-61. Oil on Homasote, 36 × 48 in. (91.4 × 121.9 cm). Cari and Michael J. Sacks, Chicago. ©2013 Morgan Art Foundation, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
With his populist imagery, he invokes topics like literature, with a series of paintings using texts from Walt Whitman, Herman Melville and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He also addresses social concerns like death, democracy and racial injustice. That’s a long way from free love. For designers, what’s particularly appealing about Indiana’s work is his use of text, which paved the way for a number of younger artists’ text-based work. His pieces are at first very direct, like advertising or logos, but as they sit, they become multilayered and more abstract. “Indiana’s marriage of language and hard-edge abstraction was audacious,” Haskell said. “It was one thing to insinuate words into an overall composition or depict them with painterly brushstrokes, but to present them without mediation, in the  style of advertisements, was unprecedented.” Indeed, like advertisements, they are visually gripping. And like any good consumer of advertisements will know, the more you look, the more you’ll find.   Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE Whitney Museum Through Jan. 5, 2014           Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at GigaOM. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.  

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Atomic Surplus Offers a Visual Education on the Atomic Bomb http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/17/atomic-surplus-offers-a-visual-education-on-the-atomic-bomb/ Thu, 17 Oct 2013 17:00:41 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/17/atomic-surplus-offers-a-visual-education-on-the-atomic-bomb/ By nature, presenting information visually involves simplifying: cleaning up complicated data sets or bits of information, so you can more clearly demonstrate a main point. For example, while a chart of stock prices might show that a company is doing well and it might provide the context of related events Read more...

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By nature, presenting information visually involves simplifying: cleaning up complicated data sets or bits of information, so you can more clearly demonstrate a main point. For example, while a chart of stock prices might show that a company is doing well and it might provide the context of related events (such as the recession), some elements that have affected that stock price are left out: a very warm winter, speculation, political strife in a competing company’s country, and so forth. The act of presenting information visually can, ironically, obscure information — for the sake of making that information more easily digestible.
"Trianel I (interior view of cooling tower)," digital photograph by Luca Zanier
Atomic Surplusa brand-new interdisciplinary exhibition at Santa Fe, NM’s Center for Contemporary Arts, is a reaction to streamlined visualizations. In this case, the National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored exhibition shows how our nuclear legacy has shrunk to be much smaller visually than is demanded by the magnitude of the subject matter. For most people, the atomic bomb is captured in a few bleak images — lab-coated Manhattan Project scientists, a mushrooming test detonation over the New Mexico desert, Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffering in black and white, cooling towers of nuclear power plants, ubiquitous atomic symbols — that don’t come close to telling its elaborate history, nor ensuing legacy. Indeed, the arms escalation led not only to immense human and physical destruction, but also to universal reflection, that at least made people consider the legitimacy of the enormous power we wield.
"304th Guards Red Banner Missile Regiment, Estonia," digital print by Eric Lusito
“I wanted to complicate our nuclear legacy with more images in order to deepen our questioning of it,” Erin Elder, CCA Visual Arts Director and Atomic Surplus’ organizer  Erin Elder told Visual.ly, as the crew bustled to finish setting up the exhibition. “It’s not just the bomb and pro or anti war, it’s about the environment, waste management, clean power — it’s more complicated.” For Elder, this meant including not only documentary images but also artistic interpretations of a series of events that had the world at the edge of its collective seat.
Photos of Los Alamos scientists, provided by the Los Alamos Historical Society.
"The Gadget (Trinity Test Site, July 15, 1945)," graphite and radioactive charcoal on paper by Nina Elder.
Black and white photos of scientists provided by the Los Alamos Historical Society share space with artist Nina Elder’s graphite and radioactive charcoal drawings of the first bomb, nicknamed “The Gadget,” and the ensuing fissure it left in landscape.
Digital photographs of Swiss power plant by Luca Zanier
Advertisements related to nuclear energy, 1953-1963, courtesy Prelinger Library
Luca Zanier takes chromatic digital photographs of a Swiss powerplant that show the nuclear-powered future depicted in nuclear power ads from the ’50s and ’60s (shown above) to be a reality of the present.
"Nuclear Dust I, II and III (2009)" are photograms developed using Uranium instead of light, under similar conditions as Henri Becquerel's 1896 experiment Bettina Samson
Digital photographs of nuclear disposal areas by Center for Land Use Interpretation
Bettina Samson replicates an experiment by physicist Henri Becquere that shows how uranium can develop photos without light — in Samson’s case, photos that look a lot like constellations in our universe. The Center for Land Use Interpretation offers a series of landscape photos of areas in our country where nuclear waste is stored above ground. “Artists are really good at translating complex ideas visually and leaving a lot of room for interpretation,” Elder said. “Art is a great avenue for looking at complex issues, but it can’t tell you want to think or what not to think.”
Atomic Surplus also features a para-exhibition called The Black Hole, named after a store that sells Los Alamos detritus and whose owner protested in religious garb against the nuclear bomb.
The pieces come from many different places, in location, opinion and choice of medium. For example, Japanese reggae band Rankin and Dub Ainu Band screens a video that deals with the legacy and the future of radiation in their country, while French photographer Eric Lusito captures the residue of the Red Army in places formerly part of the USSR. A series of workshops accompany the exhibition, as does film screenings of atomic-themed films like Dr. Strangelove. Despite the abundance of media, visual and otherwise, every visual or design will surely leave out parts of the story. The trick is to figure out what’s most important to show.   Center for Contemporary Arts Santa Fe Through Jan. 5, 2014   Photos by Ryan Villarreal  Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at GigaOM. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Prototypo Makes It Easier to Design Your Own Fonts http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/03/prototypo-makes-it-easier-to-design-your-own-fonts/ Fri, 04 Oct 2013 00:12:40 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/10/03/prototypo-makes-it-easier-to-design-your-own-fonts/ There comes a time in every designer’s life when the font she needs just doesn’t quite exist. Each project calls for a unique and holistic take on its subject matter — and the choice of font, with all its characteristics and personality, is integral to the overall design. That means in some Read more...

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There comes a time in every designer’s life when the font she needs just doesn’t quite exist. Each project calls for a unique and holistic take on its subject matter — and the choice of font, with all its characteristics and personality, is integral to the overall design. That means in some cases existing fonts won’t necessarily do. Why not try your own hand at typography? That way, you not only have the sheer pride in saying, “I made that poster and that font,” but also the pragmatic plusses of creating a font that suits your project’s exact needs. This month, open-source online font creator Prototypo is launching in beta. Prototypo is not the first of its kind, but it’s certainly an elegant take on the free-typography-making options out there. Created by Yannick Mathey and Louis-Rémi Babé, Prototypo allows you to tweak all glyphs — or character designs — at once in more than 20 parameters. One can also modify each letter as far as depth, width, serifs, proportions, and more.   Of course, there are many considerations to make when creating a font. Not only do you need to know about proportions, kerning, aperture and all sorts of typography jargon, you also need to know how to use them effectively. Overall, good fonts are easily readable, even at small sizes. They also increase reading speed by creating good rhythm and flow. Good fonts also fit with the design sensibility of the piece. This means considering the tone of your project and being sensitive to the personalities of the fonts you create.  A lot of times this involves intangibles, like: Is the font energetic or relaxed? Commanding or meek? Mysterious or personable? Once you’ve figured all that out on Prototypo and you’re happy with your customized font, simply export it as .ttx, which can be converted into .otf, and voilà: you have an ad hoc font for your design project. A Kickstarter for Prototypo launches this month as a way to expand the program with more glyphs, parameters and modification options. According to Mathey, both the beta and the Kickstarter will be up by the end of October.

Kickstarting Font Creation from yannick mathey on Vimeo.

Today Yannick and Louis-Rémi have joined forces to revive Prototypo and make it even more awesome (and real). It will be an online app, it will be open-source, and it will be released soon, with your help! Visit http://prototypo.io for more information.   Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Get to Know Edward Tufte’s Work–By Visiting His Farm http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/09/26/get-to-know-edward-tuftes-work-by-visiting-his-farm/ Thu, 26 Sep 2013 21:00:56 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/09/26/get-to-know-edward-tuftes-work-by-visiting-his-farm/ Data visualizers are a different breed. We scope out cool charts for kicks and hold up people like Edward Tufte as our celebrities. Clear your plans and get your fame fix at Tufte’s third annual open house. On one Saturday only, visitors can view his 80 large scale landscape works Read more...

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Data visualizers are a different breed. We scope out cool charts for kicks and hold up people like Edward Tufte as our celebrities. Clear your plans and get your fame fix at Tufte’s third annual open house. On one Saturday only, visitors can view his 80 large scale landscape works that 234 acres on Hogpen Hill Farms in northwest Connecticut. Works at the open house include a series called Continuous Silent Megaliths: Structures of Unknown Significance, hundreds of tons of native rock into towering sculptures. The “stone+air” works, created with the help of stone worker Dan Snow, are reminiscent of the land art movement that began in the ’60s. But Tufte doesn’t mean for these works to be abstractions or to represent anything, unlike his Richard Feynman-inspired All Possible Photons, a gallery show at ET Modern in which he created abstracted versions of the physicist’s subatomic particle diagrams. While those pieces are metal curlicues that represent subatomic matter, the works on display at Hogpen Farms are more visceral, made of earth, air and stone. Tufte writes: “I think of the pieces as being made from two materials, stone and air. Much of thinking about the works is devoted to seeing and reasoning about the airspaces generated by positioning the stone.” These pieces take advantage of the sprawling landscape for a gallery not circumscribed by walls. The statistician, author and artist has gone a far way toward bridging a divide between data visualization and art (he thinks they can be one in the same). If you’re feeling adventurous the first Saturday in October, drive up 100 minutes from Manhattan to check out the land art. The place is big so bring your walking shoes. Open House  11 am-5 pm Saturday, Oct. 5  (rain date Oct. 6) Hogpen Hill Farms 100 Weekeepeemee Road Woodbury, Connecticut  203 272-918 Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Turning Difficult Concepts Into Pretty Pictures at MIT http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/09/19/turning-difficult-concepts-into-pretty-pictures-at-mit/ Thu, 19 Sep 2013 17:00:48 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/09/19/turning-difficult-concepts-into-pretty-pictures-at-mit/ It’s easy in data visualization to get caught up in charts and graphs. That’s because much of our work relies on cold hard numbers. But really, any imagery that conveys an idea is data visualization, which can be helpful to illustrate concepts, if not the numbers themselves. In the case Read more...

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It’s easy in data visualization to get caught up in charts and graphs. That’s because much of our work relies on cold hard numbers. But really, any imagery that conveys an idea is data visualization, which can be helpful to illustrate concepts, if not the numbers themselves. In the case of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose research deals heavily in complex sciences, conceptual data visualizations — let’s call them illustrations — are particularly important. Christine Daniloff is the creative design director at MIT News, the university’s communications arm, and is responsible for illustrating its homepage. These illustrations set the stage for the underlying faculty and student work, instantly introducing visitors to the subject matter at hand — even if that subject matter is beyond them. Using Photoshop and Illustrator, Daniloff tries to convey the content of an article in a single image. Given the frequent complexity of the subject, it’s not likely an appropriate stock photo even exists, let alone one that would do the concept justice. In order to reach the popular publication’s audience, Daniloff must first get her own head around these difficult scientific concepts. This is a tall order because MIT research runs the intellectual gamut, from aeronautics to anthropology, from physics to urban planning. “The first thing I do is establish how this research or discovery applies to the broad audience,” Daniloff said. “I try and answer the question ‘why should we care?'” Some concepts are more difficult to illustrate than others. How would you visualize human language evolving from birdsong or how the US immigration policy affects entrepreneurship (see below) without it seeming hokey? Here, we’ve included a number of Daniloff’s illustrations, along with links to their attendant articles. How would you would approach each subject?

How human language could have evolved from birdsong

Linguistics and biology researchers propose a new theory on the deep roots of human speech.

 

Chips as mini Internets

The data-routing techniques that undergird the Internet could increase the efficiency of multicore chips while lowering their power requirements.

 

A safer way to vaccinate

Polymer film that gradually releases DNA coding for viral proteins could offer a better alternative to traditional vaccines.

 

Why innovation thrives in cities

Double a city’s population and its economic productivity goes up 130 percent. MIT researchers think they know why.

 

Glasses-free 3-D TV looks nearer 

A new method for producing multiple-perspective 3-D images could prove more practical in the short term than holography.


Pruning the power grid

New algorithm quickly identifies the most dangerous risks in a power grid amid millions or billions of possible failures.

 

The high value of water

Study: People willing to pay more for running water report much higher levels of happiness when they have it.

 

A biplane to break the sound barrier

Cheaper, quieter and fuel-efficient biplanes could put supersonic travel on the horizon.

 

3 Questions: John Gabrieli on studying traumatic memories

Sept. 11, 2001, is a day that lives in infamy. But how accurately do we remember it?

 

Q&A: U.S. immigration policy and entrepreneurship

MIT’s Bill Aulet, Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook and Edward Roberts discuss the challenges facing foreign-born entrepreneurs under U.S. immigration policy.

All images courtesy Christine Daniloff/MIT News. Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at GigaOM. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.  

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The Power of Text in Art http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/09/12/the-power-of-text-in-art/ Thu, 12 Sep 2013 17:00:45 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/09/12/the-power-of-text-in-art/   Any designer can tell you the importance of text. Its placement, font, color, feeling, style and meaning all affect how we understand the words themselves. Calligraffiti:1984-2013 gives us a global taste of the power of text in art over the past 30 years.   Originally curated in 1984 by LA Museum of Read more...

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  Any designer can tell you the importance of text. Its placement, font, color, feeling, style and meaning all affect how we understand the words themselves. Calligraffiti:1984-2013 gives us a global taste of the power of text in art over the past 30 years.   Originally curated in 1984 by LA Museum of Contemporary Art Director Jeffrey Deitch, the updated exhibition features work from more than 50 artists from around the world, who render text as graffiti, calligraphy and contemporary art.   Artists like Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly make text that doesn’t really look like text — highlighting text as art in and of itself, not necessarily something that bears literal meaning. Jean-Michael Basquiat and Keith Haring use language to augment their works.   In Basquiat’s “Portrait of Keith Haring in Mudd Club Guest Book,” he chickenscratches “Keith” next to a sketch of his friend and fellow artist, identifying a portrait that could be anyone with glasses. Haring’s text often appears like graffiti and is means to illustrate just that.   While the older pieces are most recognizable, the exhibition’s more recent works are its most loaded. Factoring heavily from North Africa and the Middle East, many of the pieces respond and react to political instability and revolution in that part of the world. Arabic script both speaks out in protest and functions as a beautiful design element.   Tunisian street artist El Seed forms Arabic into artful structures with poetic names like “In the Desert of Language, Calligraphy Is the Shade Where I Rest.” Similarly, Iranian artist Reza Mafi uses text in his untitled pieces to create expressive structures—divorced from meaning for those who don’t understand the script.   Leila Pazooki calligraphies “This Is Not Green” in illuminated neon tubes as a nod to Iran’s Green Movement. Iraqi-born artist Ayad Alkadhi uses words as physical elements of his pieces, like the arms of outstretched hands in “Hear My Words” or a knife held in “If Words Could Kill III.” These pieces, disparate as they are across place and time, all use text for various reasons and ends. They show that words carry more than literal meaning. Designers, take note.   Photography by Rani Molla. Rani Molla has a digital media master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and is the editorial producer at GigaOM. She’s a journalism reader, writer, photographer, videographer, data visualizer and general doer. Follow her on Twitter.

    Calligraffiti:1984-2013 Leila Heller Gallery Through Oct. 5 

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