Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SF360 Live: Data In Motion

SF360 Live: Data In Motion: Information Design and Animation
Friday, November 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
The Apple Store, One Stockton Street
Joy Mountford

The San Francisco International Animation Festival sponsored this presentation in the Apple Store on Stockton Street. User interface designer Joy Mountford showed us a variety of animations which show large data sets changing over time. Many of the animations are both beautiful & revealing, such as one of a spinning globe with spikes erupting out of it, showing the rapid spread of particular internet search terms. I was entranced by a video of an installation at the Tate consisting of thousands of blinking LEDs lining a corridor. The moving patterns could be based on a variety of data sources, from cellular automata to the movement of visitors through the gallery. It seems that much of the work she showed is proprietary, so she was not permitted to give us specific links to any of the projects. But her point was clear. As we have more & more data to analyze, these sorts of animated visualizations will become increasingly useful.

Ms. Mountford, with her English accent & fashionably black outfit, piques one's curiosity. However, I am not sure it was necessary for her to include in her presentation footage from Frank Thomas's memorial service or pictures of her young son.


Stephen Smoliar said...

Without detracting from Joy's accomplishments, I think it is important to recognize the efforts of Edward Tufte, particularly in his book Visual Explanations, which is primarily about the value of time-based displays. Then, of course, we cannot afford to forget the pioneering work of Rudolf Arnheim in his Visual Thinking book!

Axel Feldheim said...

Ms. Mountford is definitely in the same space as Tufte, though I suspect that Tufte would object to many of the animations as examples of "dequantification". But she is working with really large data sets for which Tufte's technique of multiples probably wouldn't work as well as. She herself traces the animated visualizations back to Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad, a graphic user interface developed in the 1963.