Discussion Response 6 – Reflections

Looking back on this unit, I have enjoyed the variety of subjects covered, but I wish I had had more time to spend on the activities. Of the weekly topics, my favourite was data visualisation, and I am glad that I chose this topic for my final essay as I still found it interesting even after reading a bunch of texts on it! I would have liked the opportunity to create more of my own visualisations, and have plans to do so over the upcoming break. This topic could almost be its own unit and I hope that it comes up again later in my degree.

I also enjoyed the week we spent on Michel Gondry and film. This is a medium which I know little about and it was interesting to read about it and watch the videos. Also, when the set reading is a movie, it’s a welcome relief!

I appreciated the two tasks which focussed on the final essay, the first which got me to start my reading early and the second which got me to see that I had more reading to do! I find academic reading a hard task to stick to, so it was great to have those reminders along the way so I wasn’t stuck reading when I was supposed to be up to the writing part.

The continued use of referencing was a pain to begin with, but now I feel quite confident with the APA style.

As someone who is completely new to Design, this was a great introduction to the different kinds of works available to design professionals, and it gave me hope that I, someone who is truly not gifted with artistic ability, will be able find my special niche in this world.

Thanks for an interesting unit Anna, and thanks for your excellent turnaround times for marking and always helpful feedback!

 

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Discussion Response 5 – Letter Arguing For Funds

 
 

Dear Grants Officer,

I am writing to you on behalf of SELCO India, with the hope that you will consider our organisation for your financial aid program for the 2017-2018 financial year.

SELCO India was established in 1995 to provide energy solutions to under-served and un-served areas of rural India. Our flagship product is the Solar Home Lighting System, a wireless solar power system which can be used by families in rural areas to fuel electrical appliances and lights.

More than one third of India’s population live off the electricity grid and an equal number suffer from frequent power cuts due to poor electrical service. The Solar Home Lighting System allows electricity to be gathered during the day, and then used by night to allow families to pursue income generating activities and also allows children to study and read after dark. These families currently survive on kerosene fuelled lamps, which are hazardous to their health and the environment. Kerosene is also 325 times more expensive for the same level and quality of light that can be provided by a standard incandescent bulb fuelled by a Solar Home Lighting System.

Our products are purchased by farmers and families on a payment plan, where the customer places a 15% deposit and is then required to pay the balance over three to five years. Many of our customers experience an increase to their income and to their children’s literacy and education levels due to the improved electricity service in their homes.

We are in need of financial partners to allow us to continue the production and distribution of the valuable Solar Home Lighting System. Through generous donations and partnerships with government agencies, private companies and financial institutions, our product has bettered the lives of 100,000 households in Karnataka, and it is our goal by 2023 to extend our services to neighbouring states Maharashtra, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu. Your financial aid would help us and the rural communities of India immensely.

For more information about the Solar Home Lighting System, please visit our website http://www.selco-india.com. I can be contacted through the below details for any further information or documentation.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Jane Doe
Chief Technology Officer
SELCO India

References

Design for the Other 90%. (n.d.). Solar Home Lighting System. Retrieved from http://archive.cooperhewitt.org/other90/other90.cooperhewitt.org/Design/solar-home-lighting-system.html

SELCO Solar India (2008). SELCO Solar India. Retrieved from http://www.selco-india.com.

 

 

Discussion Response 4 – Reference List

Option 1: Data visualisation

The gathering, conceptualisation and presentation of data in 2D and 3D formats and more recently, using digital technologies to create interactive interfaces, has the capacity to transform our understanding of an issue.

Below is my current reference list for my major essay on data visualisation. My topic of choice is data visualisation in popular culture, and my three examples deal with movies, music, and television. I have not yet finished sourcing references for my essay, so I expect that my reference list will grow as I continue to refine my essay plan and initial drafts.

REFERENCE LIST

You must read/view all texts and media in the list of Set readings/viewing for your question. (List your research using APA 6th Edition referencing.)

Books

Reas, C., & McWilliams, C. (2010). Form code in design, art, and architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural.

Roberts, L. (2006). Good: Ethics of Graphic Design. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing.

Tufte, E. (1983). The visual display of quantitative information. Cheshire, Conn., US: Graphics Press.

 

Journal and online articles

Dur, B. (2014). Data Visualization and Infographics in Visual Communication Design Education at The Age of Information. Journal of Arts and Humanities, 3(5), 39-50. Retrieved from http://www.theartsjournal.org/index.php/site/article/view/460/267

Hohl, M. (2011). From Abstract to actual: art and designer-like enquiries into data visualisation, Kybernetes, 40, 7-8, 1038-1044.

Keim, D. (2002). Information visualization and visual data mining. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 7(1), 100-107.

Lockton, D., Nicholson, L., Cain, R. & Harrison, D. (2014). Persuasive technology for sustainable workplaces. Interactions, 21, 1, pp. 58-61.

 

Webpages

Google. (n.d.). Music Timeline. Retrieved from https://research.google.com/bigpicture/music/

McCandless, D. (n.d.). The Hollywood In$ider — Information is Beautiful. Retrieved from http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-hollywood-insider/

Murphy, D. (2016). Game of Thrones Interactive Viz MkII. Retrieved from https://datasaurus-rex.com/datavisualization/game-of-thrones-interactive-viz-mkii

 

Audio-visual

Koblin, A. (2011, March). Visualizing ourselves … with crowd-sourced data [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_koblin.html

TED. (2011). What we learned from 5 million books [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/what_we_learned_from_5_million_books.

TED. (2010). David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization

 

Task 3: Michel Gondry

George Méliès (1861-1938) was a French illusionist and film director who is credited with inventing a number of cinematic special effects (Ezra, 2000). One of his most commonly used effect is substitution splicing, which shows the “sudden appearance or disappearance of a person or object, or the sudden replacement of one thing by another” (Ezra, 2000, p. 28).

The first example of substitution splicing which appears in Méliès work can be seen his 1986 short film The Vanishing Lady, where Méliès seems to make a woman disappear (Méliès, 2015, 00:30). This substitution splicing effect is achieved by filming each part of the scene, then cutting the film and carefully splicing it back together so that the effect appears seamless (Ezra, 2000).

TheVanishingLady.jpg
Screen captures from The Vanishing Lady (1986)

Other special effects which can be credited to Méliès include different types of multiple exposure, where the first exposure is captured, then the film is carefully re-wound, and then a second exposure is captured on top (Ezra, 2000). Examples of multiple exposure techniques include dissolves (fade in / fade out), matte shots (where only part of the image is replaced), and replication effects (where objects appear to multiply).

The work of George Méliès has influenced many filmmakers throughout the years, and one current example of this is Michel Gondry, a French film director, screenwriter and producer, whose work ranges from commercials, music video clips, and feature films. Gondry’s film work tends towards being eccentric and surreal, and often contains references to his childhood (Goldsmith, 2004).

Gap
Screen captures from the Gap commercial by Michel Gondry (1999)

In 1999, Gondry directed a series of Christmas advertisements for American clothing retailer Gap. This three-part series features a number of dancers wearing several identical outfits and uses a more modern (and most likely digital) version of Méliès’ substitution slicing and dissolve effects. These effects can be identified in the scene shown in screen captures above, taken from the first in the series, where the shot of the eight dancers in a line morphs into the shot of the single dancer in the pink top (ayexrockstar, 2008).

Gap5
Screen capture from the Gap commercial by Michel Gondry (1999)

Another scene of note is shown in the image above, which is a top-down view of the dancers arranged in a kaleidoscopic fashion (ayexrockstar, 2008). This scene is reminiscent of the work of Busby Berkeley, who was famous for his large-scale choregraphed dance routines (Whiteley, n.d.). This scene mimics Méliès’ replication effect as the dancers appear to be multiplied due to their identical outfits.

Michel Gondry and many other filmmakers have been influenced by the work of early film directors such as George Méliès. The special effects which are credited to Méliès have been adapted and improved upon with the advance of technology, but their essence remains timeless.

References

ayexrockstr (2008). Gap (holiday) commercial (by Michel Gondry) [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-Ll3-llQPo.

Ezra, E. (2000). Méliès Does Tricks, Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press. pp. 24-35.

Goldsmith, L. (2004). The Work of Director Michel Gondry. Retrieved from http://www.notcoming.com/features/gondry/.

Méliès, G. (2015). The Vanishing Lady – George Méliès (1896) [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY0iAB4l9Xc.

Whiteley, C. (n.d.). Busby Berkeley (1895-1976). Retrieved from http://www.hollywoodsgoldenage.com/moguls/busby.html.

 

Discussion Response 3 – Data Visualisation Journal Articles

Technology has developed significantly over the past century, and these advancements have also increased our capacity for collecting, storing and analysing data. In 1986 the average person would be exposed to 40 85-page newspapers each day, and by 2007 this number had increased to 147 newspapers each day (Krum, 2014). Communication designers have an important role to play in the translation of this vast quantity of data into clear, concise and visually appealing data visualisations and infographics.

Dur (2014) writes of the importance of ensuring that design students are taught how to collaborate with professionals from other disciplines in ways which will enable them to more actively discover, understand and interpret information. A well-designed data visualisation has the ability to reach and engage a wider audience, and can be used to persuade, motivate and activate people. The visualisation of information allows non-experts to identify patterns and connections, and it is the role of the designer to use design elements such as colour, texture, size and dimension to emphasise the key messages (Dur, 2014).

It is important that data visualisations are aesthetically pleasing, as this will affect people’s willingness to interact and engage with them (Quispel & Maes, 2014). Most data visualisations that are published in the mass media are quite simple, such as bar charts and pie charts, and these simple layouts can be understood very easily and quickly. However, if the goal is to engage and entrap the attention of a wider audience, then data visualisations should also be designed to be visually appealing, and should invite viewers to further explore and connect with the information (Dur, 2014).

References

Dur, B. (2014). Data Visualization and Infographics in Visual Communication Design Education at The Age of Information. Journal of Arts and Humanities, 3(5), 39-50. Retrieved from http://www.theartsjournal.org/index.php/site/article/view/460/267

Krum, R. (2014). Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design. Indianapolis: John Wiley and Sons.

Quispel, A., & Maes, A. (2014). Would you prefer pie or cupcakes? Preferences for data visualization designs of professionals and laypeople in graphic design. Journal Of Visual Languages & Computing, 25(2), 107-116. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045926X13000967

Task 2: Design Language


Image source: http://www.adaa.abudhabi.ae/En/FooterLogos/Visit%20Abu%20Dhabi.jpg

colorado_state_variations

Image source: http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/colorado_state_variations.png

The purpose of a brand is to differentiate one product from its competitors, to provoke beliefs and emotions, and prompt behaviours in consumers (Morgan et al., 2011). A successful brand can instil a sense of value and performance to a product, and can be used to generate those social and emotional values for new products.

One of the most important components of a brand is its logo, as this provides a visual identifier for the product or company. A logo is a mark which conveys meaning about the product it represents. It must be simple enough that it can be easily reproduced, however the process of inventing the logo is often a lengthy one, as the logo gives form to “abstract values, concepts and attitudes in a single mark” (Glickfield, 2010, p. 27).

One city which has recently risen in prominence as a tourist destination and place of business is Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Prior to the launch of the Abu Dhabi brand in 2007, the city suffered from low global awareness in the majority of markets that the city was expanding into (Morgan et al., 2011). Every element of Abu Dhabi’s brand logo was carefully considered, the font and the logo itself communicate the city’s Arab background, the colours reflect the city’s heritage and landscape, and the shape of the logo is inspired by the iconic red sail of Abu Dhabi (Our Abu Dhabi, n. d.).

While the branding efforts of Abu Dhabi in 2007 were to create a new brand to increase global awareness, other places have chosen to rebrand themselves. In 2013 the state of Colorado launched an online campaign to rebrand the state called Making Colorado, where all residents of Colorado could submit their thoughts, opinions and creative ideas for review (Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, 2016).

The driving force behind the Making Colorado campaign was due to the fact that the existing logo, a red C surrounding a golden circle, was part of the state’s official flag and as a result it was part of the public domain and could be used for any purpose and in any way (Medina, 2013). The creation of a new logo for the state would allow the state to retain control over its use. The outcome of the Making Colorado campaign is a triangular green and white design which was inspired by the state’s alpine-themed license plates. The design includes a silhouette of a snowy mountain peak, and the state’s abbreviation “CO”. The new logo invokes images of snow-capped mountains and pine trees, and this message of the state’s natural beauty is also reinforced with the state’s new logo “It’s our nature”.

Both Abu Dhabi’s and Colorado’s new logos are very effective at communicating a lot of information in a single mark. Logo design is not just a matter of creating something which represents a product, but it also needs “to communicate an ethos rather than represent something figurative or literal” (Glickfield, 2010, p. 27). This can only be done with consultation with stakeholders, research into the history, demographics, and geographical attributes of the area, and a clear understanding of the message the tourism body or government wishes to portray.

References

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. (2016). What Makes Colorado Colorado? State Launches Inclusive Branding Initiative. Retrieved from https://choosecolorado.com/what-makes-colorado-colorado-state-launches-inclusive-branding-initiative/

Glickfeld, E. (2010). On logophobia. Meanjin, 69(3), 26-32.

Medina, S. (2013). Rocky Start? Colorado Adopts A New State Logo, With A Few Bumps. Retrieved from https://www.fastcodesign.com/3017119/rocky-start-colorado-adopts-a-new-state-logo-with-a-few-bumps

Morgan, N., Pritchard, A., & Pride, R. (2011). Destination brands. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au.

Our Abu Dhabi. (n.d.). Our Brand. Retrieved from http://ourabudhabi.ae/en/our-brand.html.

CDI – Weeks 3 and 4 Thoughts

Weeks 3 and 4 of the trimester just flew by! I guess it didn’t help that I have spent 7 out of the 14 nights at the snow. I have fallen a little bit behind over the past fortnight, and haven’t had enough time to really explore the material and do the activities, other than the assessable ones. Hopefully I will have the time and the motivation to play catch up later on.

In Week 3 we studied design activism, which was interesting but nowhere near as interesting as I found the data visualisation topic. Design definitely has a role to play in activism as both the vehicle for communicating important messages, providing symbols for people to get behind and unite under, and also by making statements through art, posters, magazines, etc.

In Week 4 we studied design language, which was actually more about branding and logo design. I feel that there is a LOT more in this topic than what was covered in the learning materials and the readings. Part of the material was to watch the film Helvetica, which talks about the history of the font and how it’s used absolutely everywhere. It was quite interesting, and I decided that I do like Helvetica. Sometimes you want a font just to be there and not say anything, you know what I mean? I prefer clean fonts, and Helvetica is attractive in its simplicity and neutrality (is that a word? If not, I just made it one!).

Discussion Response 2 – Design Activism

Image source: http://inkahoots.com.au/project_files/50/38/54/22305438501_lg.jpg

The term “activism” is commonly used when referring to activities that demand social or political change, such as protests, marches, and petitions. In the world of design, activism takes on many different forms, including posters, videos, images, artworks, and even architecture. Design efforts can be considered to be activism if they identify an issue and encourage change in order to rectify the found problem, working on behalf of a neglected, excluded or disadvantaged group, and does so in a way which disrupts the norm through unorthodox methods (Thorpe, 2011, p. 6).

An example of design activism is Inkahoots Social Buttons installation in Caggara House in Mount Gravatt (Inkahoots, n.d.). Caggara House was developed by Brisbane Housing Company to provide affordable public housing to tenants over 55 years of age (The Senior, 2016). The Social Buttons installation consists of three large buttons which can be used to vote on social activities. The user selects their preferred activity from a given list by pressing the first button, then selects their preferences for where and when by pressing the second and third buttons. The votes are tallied each month and the most popular choice is sent to the residents by text message, and the housing organisation takes care of any transport requirements (Zuber, n.d.).

The Social Buttons meets the criteria for design activism as defined by Thorpe as it identifies the issue that older tenants may have difficulty making social connections, and it serves as a vehicle of change as it allows and encourages the tenants to attend social activities. The over-55 demographic is one which is often neglected by technological advances, and the installation provides a unique bridge between the tenants and the data collection and communication technology that lies behind the buttons.

Social Buttons from Inkahoots on Vimeo.

References

Inkahoots. (n.d.). Social Buttons / Inkahoots. Retrieved from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/social-buttons/~details.

The Senior. (2016). Clever addition pushes all the right buttons. Retrieved from http://www.thesenior.com.au/lifestyle/clever-addition-pushes-all-the-right-buttons/.

Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining Design as Activism. Retrieved from http://designactivism.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thorpe-definingdesignactivism.pdf.

Zuber, C. (n.d.). Inkahoots + interactivity: press the buttons. Retrieved from http://designonline.org.au/inkahoots-interactivity-press-the-buttons/.

Task 1: Data Visualisation

Data visualisation is the practice of transforming data into graphs, charts, maps, networks, videos, and other graphical forms. The application of data visualisation techniques can cause previously hidden patterns and trends to be identified within the data, and the resulting graphic should present the data in a more understandable and digestible format.

There are many different data visualisation techniques, and it’s important to choose a method which fits the data well and also adds meaning and truth to the data (Reas & McWilliams, 2010). The technique selected will depend on what the data is, how it’s organised, and what message the designer wishes to convey.

Data visualisation techniques can be roughly categorised based on the type of data and the interaction and distortion techniques used (Keim, 2002). Commonly used data types include one-dimensional data (such as time), two-dimensional data (such as maps), multi-dimensional data (such as data in related tables), text, hyperlinks, hierarchies and graphs. Some examples of interaction and distortion techniques include filtering, linking, projecting and zooming.

Perhaps one of the most useful features of data visualisation is its ability to allow a large amount of data to be analysed, explored, and manipulated without becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. Data is commonly explored by viewing it in a summarised form, then zooming into the areas of most interest, and then filtering out what’s irrelevant (Keim, 2002).

Data visualisation is a powerful tool when used well, however if the choice of technique does not match the data then it may fail to convey the intended message. Data which has a geographic nature is well represented by static and interactive maps, and data which has been recorded over time is effectively displayed using a time series visualisation, such as Aaron Koblin’s flight pattern animations (Koblin, n.d.). The correct application of data visualisation should result in a graphic which is easy to interpret, manipulate and analyse.

An excellent example of an interactive two-dimensional data visualisation is Nathan Yau’s Compare Worst and Best Commutes in America, which presents its data through an interactive map (Yau, 2015). Clicking on any county on the map will reveal how the average commute times across American counties compare to the chosen county. The commute time variable is split into five colour coded categories ranging from “much shorter” to “much longer”.

Nathan Yau’s interactive commute time map is a perfect example of why data visualisation provides a stronger representation of data than using tables or text. To represent the same amount of data in a table would require one column and one row per county, and it would be very difficult to compare the counties against each other without any interactive elements. Similarly, if the data was presented in text form, it would lose a lot of its meaning as it would be very difficult and tedious to read. The choice to use an interactive map to represent this set of data allows the end results to be easily and quickly understood, which makes the visualisation extremely effective.

References

Keim, D. (2002). Information visualization and visual data mining. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 7(1), 100-107.

Koblin, A. (n.d.). Aaron Koblin – Flight Paths. Retrieved July 22, 2017, from http://www.aaronkoblin.com/work/flightpatterns/index.html

Reas, C., & McWilliams, C. (2010). Form + code in design, art, and architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Yau, N. (2015). Compare worst and best commutes in America. Retrieved from http://flowingdata.com/2015/02/05/where-the-commute-is-worse-and-better-than-yours/

Data Visualisation Task

This week’s task is to track our movements in the house or the workplace over the course of the week, and then share the data visually with the group. I chose the house option, as I don’t really walk around my office very much at all. I must admit that I didn’t include every single movement, because quite often I’d go to a room for 10 seconds just to grab something… and also I didn’t want to spend the week attached to my spreadsheet so I only made my entries a few times a day and just worked off my memory of where I’d been.

I decided to use a website to produce my data visualisation, as I wasn’t happy with what MS Excel had to offer. Apparently it can do more than what I’ve used before… but I just couldn’t get it to work. I found a website – Raw Graphs – where you can paste in your data and then select your graph type, and then you can just embed the result. Easy!

CDI_Week02_Alluvial.png

The above graphic shows my movements within the house from Monday to Friday, with the left side being the room I was coming from, and the right side showing the room I was going to. The thickness of the line shows the number of times I made that particular transition. This is an “alluvial” diagram, which presents flows and allows correlations between categorical dimensions to be shown, visually linking to the number of elements sharing the same categories (definition from Raw Graphs).

CDI_Week02_CirclePacking.png

This one is a “Circle Packing” diagram, which shows nested circles and the size of the circles allows for easy visual comparisons to be made. The five outer circles represent a day each (the day label can be seen in the centre of the circle, some are quite hard to see), and the inner coloured circles represent the number of minutes within each room. I think this diagram would be more effective without the labels, but the website doesn’t output a legend and without that, it’s not clear what you’re looking at.

From this graph you can see that the day I spend the most time at home is Monday, because that’s my study day. Wednesday and Thursday are the smallest because both nights I went out and spent a few hours at the dog club. Friday has lots of small circles because I was doing chores and moving from room to room a lot.