New York Prompts

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I have spent four days in New York.

It has been a remarkable learning experience … my last visit here was twenty years ago.

In addition to experiencing the hustle and bustle of everyday life here, I have had opportunities to visit two galleries. Both visits have encouraged me to think much more about visualising and sharing data stories.

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At the Museum of Modern Art, I saw Alejandro Puente’s work on colour. In a catalogue note, Alejandro observed “Color is the only element that has grammatical and syntactical properties in and of itself. In this respect, we can speak of color as a language and analyze it or present it in accordance with its own structural rules.”

His discussion and use of colour reminded me of Roy de Maistre’s work in the Sydney Moderns Exhibition.

A second set of images at the Museum of Modern Art extended my thoughts about how to share data. The images came from the Million Dollar Block Project (2006). The Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) said of this project:

Million Dollar Blocks is the first of a series of projects to be undertaken by SIDL, as part of a two year research and development project on Graphical Innovation in Justice Mapping. The project, generously supported by the JEHT Foundation and by the Open Society Institute activates a partnership between the Justice Mapping Center (JMC), the JFA Institute (JFA), and the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation (GSAPP).

This unique partnership enables the Justice Mapping Center to refine analytical and graphical techniques within the research and teaching environment of the Spatial Information Design Lab, which can then be applied to real life policy initiatives through work with the JFA Institute. Reciprocally, input from state and local leaders is then brought back to the Design Lab for further development. This feedback loop is a valuable tool resulting in new methods of spatial analyses and ways of visually presenting them that reveal previously unseen dimensions of criminal justice and related government policies in states across the United States.

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Erica Cadora said of the visualisations:

What we mapped was not a big surprise to people. But when you actually gather the real data and the real numbers, and you put them on maps, they become immediately understandable to people who didn’t see it – like legislators, city council people, researchers. They become – almost urban planners; and start to ask questions like, oh, well, look at all the resources around this million-dollar area, but they’re not being used well. How can we take those resources, and then seek to strengthen them; rather than come in blind with some kind of – sort of giant service center that doesn’t really link with what’s already going on in those neighborhoods.

Two days later I visited the Museum of the Society of American Illustrators.

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I was fascinated by the Arts for Transit artifacts in the Museum. One work that attracted my attention was Jason Middlebrook’s Brooklyn Seeds (2011) at Avenue U Station on the Q subway.

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Both visits have encouraged me to think about the scope we have to extend our visulisation of data and to develop new narratives.

Photo Credits

Million Dollar Blocks
Brooklyn Seeds

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