Since 2012, colleague Denton Fredrickson and I have been exploring data visualization / physicalization. It has been our pleasure to work with some fabulous research scientists from Agriculture and AgriFood Canada: first Dr. Rose DeClerck-Floate, a entomologist / botanist whose work is in using bio-control agents to slow the growth of invasive species, and Dr. Jamie Larsen, a plant breeder who is researching fall rye for improved falling number and grain yield. In addition, we have now had over 15 students work in our lab in various capacities: undergraduate Independent Studies, graduate students, and interns. Walking into the busy, engaged lab is the highlight of my day.
We have developed a methodology that is critical to the work. Each term, the students work closely with the scientist in learning as much as possible about the research. Developing a personal relationship seems to be key to their artistic response, and we are just so lucky to have committed scientists involved. Next, students develop artwork that visualizes the data set that has been provided. Project technologies and processes are entirely up to students, and we help support them in whatever way we can.
Every few weeks we convene as a group to critique and evaluate the work. Because students are from various disciplines (primarily New Media and Art), there is a good mix of approaches and much to talk about. Sometimes students will choose to collaborate, and sometimes they are inspired by the work of another – but each time we meet we ask the students to go back to their studio and try another iteration. This way, we end the term with multiple artworks that all use the same data set. The short videos below outline the structure of the lab and show a few pieces of the work. You can also visit our site: http://datavizexperiments.org