Today, many aspects of our life are mediated by data: in our social interaction through digital platforms, in our relationship with the government, and in getting informed about current events. Designers' role is more crucial than thought in this scenario: they participate in the creation of artifacts that allow everybody to produce and consume data. Data visualization and interfaces are a clear example: they are the famous tip of the iceberg, the last step of a long chain of actions of data collection, analysis, refinement, selection in which a series of actors make choices and impose their view on the observed phenomena. The visual communication of data is not related only to the visual side, but also (and sometimes, mainly) to the design of data. Communication designers must be aware of all the potentialities and risks when working with data to critically and effectively design in this scenario.
In the 2023 edition of Final Synthesis studio course Section C3 - one of the latest and biggest exams in the Communication Design Master Degree - students engaged for four months with the visual translation of data, processes, and algorithms.
Students explored the potential and issues of data mediation in the representation of phenomena. Under the supervision of the professor of Statistics, they studied how statistical and ML algorithms work and why it’s important to understand them. They delve into our relationship with digital platforms and the algorithms governing them. They looked at how social issues mobilize various publics and how data can play a central role in forming them. And with the supervision of the professor in semiotics studies, they explored their role as authors and how we can use visual communication to make people sense data.
The results are 21 group works and 47 personal assignments presented in this exhibition. Students engaged with the visual representation of data in an array of different formats: printed posters, books, interactive websites, videos, and physical installations.
At the end of the course, students will have gained:
- Knowledge in the data visualization, information visualization, information design disciplines, and the role of communication design;
- Knowledge and use of the visual variables and application of communication design to visualization of data and information;
- Knowledge on tools for data manipulation (Excel, OpenRefine) and for the creation of visual structures (RAWGraphs, Gephi);
- Knowledge on data harvesting/scraping (Web Scraper Chrome Extension) and data collection through APIs;
- Knowledge on basic concepts from statistics and softwares for their application (R);
- Knowledge of the rhetorical-argumentative figures (especially those based on analogy and metaphor).