19 Artistic Visualization

Lev Manovich

Before the end of the 1990s, the use of data visualization was limited to particular scientific disciplines or financial pages of newspapers. It was not part of the vernacular visual culture. By the end of the 2000s, the situation had changed dramatically. For example, the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) presented a dynamic visualization of its collection on five screens in its lobby. MoMA also included a number of artistic visualizations in its large survey exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind (2008). The New York Times was regularly featuring custom visualizations both in its print and web editions created by the in-house New York Times interactive team. The Web was full of numerous sophisticated visualization projects created by artists, designers, scientists, and students. If one searches for certain types of public data, the first result returned by a Google search links to automatically created interactive graphs of the respective data. Dozens of free web-based visualization tools have become available. In short, three hundred years after William Playfair started the field by inventing the now classic visualization techniques (bar chart, pie chart, line chart), data visualization has finally entered the realms of both high and popular cultures.

This shift was acknowledged by the leading data visualization designers themselves:

Information visualization is becoming more than a set of tools, technologies and techniques ...

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