VISAP’16 Panel Discussion on “Critical Visualization”

Organizer: Angus Forbes
Panelists: Marian Dörk, Jessica Hullman, Dietmar Offenhuber, Adam Trowbridge, Jessica Westbrook

In keeping with this year’s VIS Arts Program theme of “Metamorphoses,” the Critical Visualization panel explores the ways in which visualization can be used to change perspectives and to understand the dynamic, evolving processes that define contemporary society. The panel brings together visualization researchers with hybrid expertise in art, design, and/or human-computer interaction— both from within and from outside the IEEE VIS community— who utilize data visualization as a method for the critical investigation of the sociocultural structures and political mechanisms that shape aspects of modern life. By presenting a clearer picture of these ubiquitous systems, we are in a better position to understand their purpose and their effects, and potentially to challenge them in order to enable more open, effective, pragmatic, and democratic alternatives. Some of the questions this panel will investigate include the following: What does it mean to introduce a critical approach to visualization that promotes disclosure, plurality, contingency, and empowerment? What opportunities are there for incorporating human-centered inquiry into visualization research? Does thinking about value, bias, and ideology have a place in scientific discourse? Does activism and advocacy help to bridge research and practice? The panel will introduce the diverse work of each of the five panelists— Dietmar Offenhuber, Jessica Westbrook, Adam Trowbridge, Marian Dörk, and Jessica Hullman— and provide a forum for discussing themes related to critical approaches to visualization.

Panelist Bios & Slides

Marian Dörk is a research professor for information visualization at the Institute for Urban Futures of Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. His research and teaching center around novel visualizations in support of exploratory information practices in the context of cultural collections and urban transformations.

Slides: Exploring the Politics of Visualization

Jessica Hullman is an Assistant Professor in the iSchool at University of Washington, where she researches and teaches Information Visualization and HCI. Her work aims to help more people make sense of complex information through tools that use visualization, structured data, and automation to contextualize data and scientific information.

Slides: Core Topics and the Rhetoric of Vis Research

Jessica Westbrook is an Associate Professor in the School of Design within the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University. She uses design to negotiate and organize the joys and struggles of information and understanding. Adam Trowbridge is an Assistant Professor of Interactive Media in the School of Design within the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University. His current work focuses on biobehavioral interface design, mobile health, programming pedagogy for designers, and geolocated augmented reality. Together, Jessica and Adam direct Divergent Design Lab, a research lab focused on divergent thinking in emerging media practices.

Slides: Divergent Thinking in Emerging Practices

Dietmar Offenhuber is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in the departments of Art+Design and Public Policy, where he heads the Information Design and Visualization graduate program. His active field of research is in Accountability Design, and focuses on the relationship between visual representations and urban governance.

Slides: Accountability-oriented Design

Angus Forbes is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at University of Illinois at Chicago, where he directs the Creative Coding Research Group within the Electronic Visualization Laboratory. He is a general chair for VISAP’16.