The brain-changing art of data visualisation

I’m fascinated by the blossoming field of data art. Seriously smart people take data (of which there is so much these days) and create colourful displays with the intention of helping us visualize what the data is telling us. Or part of it, anyway.

via davidmccandless.com

via davidmccandless.com

What most fascinates me about this is not so much the power that a good visualisation can give a set of data, but how this is changing our brains. I will probably have to go into this in more depth at another time, it’s no doubt too deep for the weekly Sunday post on digital art. But if you poke around in the field, or if you watch this video, you’ll see that at first, most data art is tough to understand. Nice colours, lovely shapes, but what is it telling me? Then it suddenly clicks (usually after listening to or reading a detailed explanation), and you wonder why you didn’t see it before. That’s how it changes your brain.

To see how beautiful and useful data art can be, and to see stories and perspective explained through colour and shape, watch this TED talk by David McCandless, author of Knowledge is Beautiful.

And have a think about what other facts and stories you would like to see turned into colourful shapes and patterns… A different way of combining art and storytelling.

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