Sunday, 30 May 2010

Change over time: Antarctic

In my work on the visualisation of time, I am above all interested in explicitly representing time graphically and spatially – as calendars, clocks and timelines do. But sometimes it is hard to resist appealing examples that implicitly represent time by showing change.

Nicholas Hutcheson has put online a series of short experiments using time-lapse drawings of the Antarctic Landscape. They can be viewed here in Vimeo.

Nicholas explains:
In 2008 I spent 8 weeks as an Artist in Residence for the Australian Antarctic Division drawing frantically as I journeyed in and around the continent. On my return, the challenge has been to try and capture some of the Antarctica I experienced.  Out there, you have a constant awareness of movement and time. Some of it is so slow - gigantic icesheets flowing towards the sea at seemingly imperceptible rates –  but then, you can also watch the sea water become ice, and weather fronts moving across the horizon.  And the majority of what makes up the landscape is frozen water. It’s defined by this ever-creeping whiteness – in compositional terms, a mass of negative space. How to deal with this in the drawings I was making?
At the start of the year, in response to this dilemma, I began to play with making very short animations, sort of time-lapse drawings of the landscape. 
A page about his drawings is here

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Jacques Bertin (1918-2010)

I learned today of the death, in Paris on 6th May, of Jacques Bertin. He pioneered an analytic approach to the use of graphic elements to convey meaning. Some of his pronouncements were distinctly strange: for example in his monumental publication Semiologie Graphique: diagrammes, réseaux, cartographie Bertin insists on separating the retinal from the spatial. This becomes very odd when he discusses the difference between the use of lengths and areas to represent quantities, since it involves declaring length as spatial but area as not.

Bertin is ironically at his best – not in his attempt to systematise through textual rules which becomes intimidatingly prescriptive – but in his opposite, graphical, tendency to offer numerous solutions to a single data visualisation task. Even within the narrow domain of a chart of four quantities, Bertin is able to show twenty different representations – an object lesson in not just plumping for the first idea that comes along.

His Semiologie Graphique: diagrammes, réseaux, cartographie is being republished in English (as Semiology of Graphics) this autumn. I cannot easily find out the publisher, but it appears on Amazon.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

An indexical chronographic

Justin Quinnell makes very long exposure photographs using a pinhole camera.

One of Justin Quinnell’s long-exposure photographs, from his pinhole photography site.

This one shows the tracks of the sun over the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, UK during a six-month exposure from 19 December 2007 to 21 June 2008.

Apparently the pinhole camera was made from an empty drinks can with a 0.25mm aperture, strapped to a telephone pole overlooking the Gorge.

Dotted lines of light are the result of overcast days when the sun was less consistently visible.