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IXD104 – Imaging and Data Visualisation

For a long time, humans have used images as a way to tell a story. Non verbal communication makes up a large percentage of how we interact with one another and is important as it can communicate a story no matter what language you speak. Although this is true, it is important to take into account that different cultures may use symbols and signs to mean something other than what you know it as.

More than ever, through the advancements of technology and the addition of social media, we communicate through the use of images and research in the field of cognitive psychology shows that images strengthen this communication in several ways. Images easily capture attention, convey a large amount of information in a relatively small amount of time and can even evoke emotions. These images can come in the form of illustrations, photographs and diagrammatic images, each captured or created with the message you want to send in mind.

While conducting some research in each of these areas I found a number of images that I found really capturing my attention, wanting to know more about the story or finding out some new interesting information.


Tree Hugger

In this illustration created by Patrick O’Leary, he states that his emphasis was on using shadows to draw the eye and that when creating these illustrations that ‘Concept is the most vital; without a good concept, the narrative just doesn’t read properly. Here he used compositional tricks of light and shade to emphasise certain elements with the long shadows from the trees drawing your eye to the central figure, who is the main point of the narrative.

Tomer Hanuka

My favourite illustrative works are from Tomer Hanuka, who creates digital art. Within many of his pieces his composition uses visual hierarchy very well in order to manipulate the eye to move in a certain way across the the 2D image. He does this with colours, texture, tone and contrast within the story that is unfolding. His illustrations have an emotional impact with the dark setting, strong narrative and the use of unique colour palettes and has created alternative movie posters such as Star Wars. One of my favourites is his poster for the Netflix movie ‘Annihiliation’.

Igor Morski

Polish illustrator and graphic designer creates surrealist illustrations that highlight some modern day issues with hidden messages within his work showing the darker side of society with many featuring juxtaposition. Many of his works feature photographs edited on photoshop, but more recently he began illustrating realism pieces, being dubbed ‘controversial’.


Maclolm Browne, June 11th 1963

This image captures a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who was preforming self-immolation as an act of protect against the corrupt South Vietnamese government at the time who where persecuting Buddhists. When I first came across this image a felt myself looking at it for a long time initially in horror of seeing someone sitting so calm while the fire is wrapped around them but then to the background where no one is seen rushing to help or to stop what is happening but instead, the crowd seem to be in some form of prayer, which made me think that maybe what this man is doing was his own choice.

National Geographic Creative – James L. Stanfield

This image was taken in 1987 and shows a heart surgeon that has successfully preformed the first heart transplant that lasted 23 hours. In the corner, the surgeons assistant can be seen sleeping, this in additions to the surgeons slumped body language shows how tired they must be both mentally and physically after spending such a long time operating on the man seen lying down with many different tubes and leads connected to him that possibly kept him alive throughout the procedure.

Data Visualisation

When researching about data visualisation, I came across a website called ‘The Data Visualisation Catalouge’ Severino Ribecca that was created initially to use as a reference tool to use in future for his own projects but then decided to share it on the web as it would be beneficial for other designers or those who work in the field of data visualisation. On this website, I was able to a catalogue of all the types of layouts that can be used when creating visual data diagrams. When I found this catalogue, it seemed like it would be really helpful to use in the future when trying to decide what type of layout I want to use for the data I would be visualising.

When researching examples of data visualisation, I knew I wanted to look at data relating to space as it something I’m very interested in. For my placement in secondary school I was fortunate enough to get to work at the Armagh Observatory and from my experience here, I knew that a lot of data would be sent to the scientists from telescopes or satellites in just figures and equations and from there, the scientists would input this data into a graph so it could be visualised much easier. However these where just simple graphs that quickly and efficiently conveyed information, nothing very visually stimulating about them.

Additionally, it made me think of the ‘images’ we have of the black hole and how they are also another form of data visualisation. Where cameras work by producing a current in response to light, antenna respond to radio waves.

These videos below were created frame by frame with the information received from M87, the supermassive black hole that resides more that 55 million light years from Earth. This is a visualisation of data, which shows the black hole in a 360* view.

This image below was the ‘image’ that was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope, generated from the data that was gathered from telescopes all over the world and shared with the public in 2019.

NASA’s website has many of these types of animated data visualisations which I really like.

Edward Tufte

Edward Tufte changed designers perceptions of statistical graphs by the breakthroughs he made in the field of visualisation and informational graphic design outlined in this book ‘The Visual Display of Quantitive Information’ and many others.


Tomer Hanuka Illustrator

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Using Behavioural Insights In Visual Communication

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