Presenter: Jason Toth
Advisor(s): Tony Brock
Author(s): Jason Toth
Graduate Program: Graphic Design

Title: Blurring Boundaries: Visualizing Data as a Subjective Narrative

Abstract: As more academic and professional disciplines seek collaborative opportunities to conduct research and practice, there is an increased need for the visual communication of data and information within these exchanges. Consequently, as these relationships flourish, the borders between disciplines blur (literally through geographic distance and virtually through research interests), forcing the collaborators to question the authority of these boundaries and to ponder where the culture of one discipline ends and the culture of another begins. 

With the technological advancements in digital imaging and the rising demand for the visualization of complex data sets and structures, the disciplines of science, history, and design find themselves in an interesting collaborative space. Specifically, this relationship is evident through a desire to visualize complex structures (such as DNA modeling, financial documentation, historical patterns, and common scientific principles) into meaningful and memorable experiences for audiences and readers. However, a significant question emerges from this collaboration concerning the placement of an un/necessary boundary line to separate and maintain authority between these fields. It is my intent to question the necessity/authority of this boundary by manipulating the temporal and spatial qualities of a complex structure to question the perceived objectivity of this boundary.

In addition, this paper challenges the neutrality of data visualizations. This is accomplished through the manipulation of temporal qualities (duration, frequency, division, measurement, framing, and pacing) often found in cinema, graphic novels, video games, and theatre to provide a narrative structure to the visualization of complex data systems. This paper also asserts that one’s ability to control, manipulate, and adjust the temporal qualities of information presented within various media asserts authorship, and ultimately, the subjectivity of information.