Abstract

Transformation, defined as the step of extracting, arranging and simplifying data into visual form (M. Neurath, 1974), was developed in connection with ISOTYPE (International System Of TYpographic Picture Education) and might well be the most important legacy of Isotype to the field of graphic design. Recently transformation has attracted renewed interest because of the book The Transformer written by Robin Kinross and Marie Neurath. My on-going research project, summarized in this paper, identifies and depicts the essential principles of data visualization underlying the process of transformation with reference to Marie Neurath’s sketches on the Bilston Project. The material has been collected at the Otto and Marie Neurath Collection housed at the University of Reading, UK. By using data visualization as a research method to look directly into the process of transformation, the project elaborates on previous revisions of the concept of transformation (Macdonald-Ross & Waller, 1974; Kinross, 1979, Kinross & Marie Neurath, 2009). The inquiry method I have used is unusual in the way the material has been organized, by “rewinding” transformation (as explained later in the paper), using the finished charts as a starting point and then going back to the beginning; furthermore, this inquiry presents a novel approach to clarifying the process by designing symbols and diagrams. It will be demonstrated that transformation offers an improved approach to data visualization. The message in the chart is not preformed, but formed through the process of transformation; this means that the purpose of transformation is not the styling of charts with pictograms, but rather creating a meaningful message. The contribution of this paper is an elaborated understanding of the process of transformation and a demonstration of the adoption of a research-through-design method.

Keywords

data visualization, ISOTYPE, transformation, research-through-design

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Visualizing Transformation

Transformation, defined as the step of extracting, arranging and simplifying data into visual form (M. Neurath, 1974), was developed in connection with ISOTYPE (International System Of TYpographic Picture Education) and might well be the most important legacy of Isotype to the field of graphic design. Recently transformation has attracted renewed interest because of the book The Transformer written by Robin Kinross and Marie Neurath. My on-going research project, summarized in this paper, identifies and depicts the essential principles of data visualization underlying the process of transformation with reference to Marie Neurath’s sketches on the Bilston Project. The material has been collected at the Otto and Marie Neurath Collection housed at the University of Reading, UK. By using data visualization as a research method to look directly into the process of transformation, the project elaborates on previous revisions of the concept of transformation (Macdonald-Ross & Waller, 1974; Kinross, 1979, Kinross & Marie Neurath, 2009). The inquiry method I have used is unusual in the way the material has been organized, by “rewinding” transformation (as explained later in the paper), using the finished charts as a starting point and then going back to the beginning; furthermore, this inquiry presents a novel approach to clarifying the process by designing symbols and diagrams. It will be demonstrated that transformation offers an improved approach to data visualization. The message in the chart is not preformed, but formed through the process of transformation; this means that the purpose of transformation is not the styling of charts with pictograms, but rather creating a meaningful message. The contribution of this paper is an elaborated understanding of the process of transformation and a demonstration of the adoption of a research-through-design method.

 

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