Every year at about this time, the FIT Media Design Club holds an exhibition of their works at the Museum at FIT. Last year it was entitled Death 2 Pie Charts and featured some truly stunning information graphics. This year’s kinetic 4th Dimension exhibit, currently on display, is equally as impressive.
Digital Junkie – Information Overload
When attending these exhibits, I always am struck by the sheer amount of talent, skill and work ethic our design students possess. Being a librarian, however, I am also always curious to know more about the research that went into the project and the sources of the data that are being illustrated. Like most people, I have a great deal of admiration for those who can transform dry numbers into compelling arguments and narratives, especially when the medium is visual. I think revealing the data sources would only enhance the exhibit and would more genuinely reflect the real world situations faced by those in the communication design industries.
Shortly after viewing the Death 2 Pie Charts show last year, I stumbled upon a YouTube video about a program that brings together visual communicators and data producers – with beautiful results. Visual Rhetoric is a collaborative endeavor between two separate educational institutions with ostensibly disparate missions: the London School of Economics and the London College of Communication. Essentially, graduate students in the social sciences from LSE pitch their research projects to graduate students from LCC, who then create presentations “as visually striking as they are epistemically credible”
It seems to me that a similar interdisciplinary initiative could take place here at FIT. We are business school as well as a design school, after all. Right now “Big Data” is king in the fashion merchandising world. The capstone projects of our Global Fashion Management students are rich with statistics and demographic figures. And our Home Products undergraduate senior presentations require in-depth exploration niche markets and trends. So while it might not all be original data that is being collected by FIT students and faculty, as is the case with the Visual Rhetoric project, there are local data sets that could be worked with by Communication Design, Graphic Design, Advertising Design, or Illustration students.
Just an idea. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I know how we would pull it off. But I would love to be involved if we ever do! In the meantime, kudos to the members of the Media Design Club and Prof. C. J. Yeh for all their good work.