Leandro Castelao is one of the hardest practitioners for me to write about. I'm so stuck between whether I love or loathe his work. These examples shown to the right and below are so intensely bold, colourful and graphic. The use of repeated geometrical and carefully measured shapes, combined with varying organic forms creates an attractive aesthetic. This is due to the work appearing somewhat stylised but retaining legibility and therefore inviting an audience to examine the work closer to discover what they are really viewing. The use of colour, bold, muted and used in blocks of defined shape is very eye catching. The image below for example I find effective due to the use of colour. The consistent use of the light teal blue throughout the image is very effective. Used as the border background colour and within the illustration, the whole image is brought together due to the visual link using this tone of blue. The brightness of the colour attracts the viewer's eye to the image whilst not confusing what could already be a complex info-graphic, by bombarding a viewer with multiples of varying colours. Originally an illustrator, it would make sense that Castelao's drawing, composition and communication techniques would be very highly evolved. And they are. Even in his simpler info-graphics below and below to the right, the aesthetic is very strong strong, I would hang the bottom right image on my wall, not to educate housemates of the workings of the solar system, but just for it's appearance.
On the other, more negative hand, I cannot get my head round how one might learn about the solar system from that particular info-graphic! This observation relates to his work in general. Lets take the bottom right image as an example. The stereotypical planet shapes are used here as well as a darkened background in comparison to the central shapes, and small stylised star illustrations border the page. All of these elements guide the viewers mind to the realisation that the solar system is being shown here. Castelao has combined these features with the composition of the planet shapes reflecting balls on a Newton's cradle. To me, this visual link, of the planets to ball bearings on a newton's cradle is not effective. Originally I found the link completely irrelevant but once I had researched exactly what a newton's cradle represented I saw more of a link. The cradle is a three dimensional diagram that shows us the effects of momentum. Although the planets of our solar system do have momentum in their orbit of the sun, the cradle analogy that is illustrated in this image I believe is a bit too simplified compared to the actual forces that are exerted on the planets of the solar system by the sun.
From this, I can learn that it is valuable to obtain feedback on work produced before allowing it to be finalised. A link between too concepts that I as a designer may find effective, such as Castelao has between the solar system and the Newton's cradle, may in fact not be effective or full understood by a target audience.
"I’m David McCandless, a London-based author, writer and designer. I’ve written for The Guardian, Wired and others. I’m into anything strange and interesting.
These days I’m an independent data journalist and information designer. A passion of mine is visualizing information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions – all with the minimum of words.
I’m interested in how designed information can help us understand the world, cut through BS and reveal the hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath. Or, failing that, it can just look cool!
My pet-hate is pie charts. Love pie. Hate pie-charts."
McCandless states in the video below, as mentioned in his short biography from the Information is beautiful website above, that he believes his background as a journalist and writer for almost 20 years has inspired and aided his information design work. For many years he was tasked with collecting data and information for the basis of articles, or researching subjects to inform himself of facts, figures and beliefs before producing critical work as a writer. McCandless describes reading and sourcing information as 'wading' through data. That in some ways it can become overwhelming and difficult to differentiate between what is useful and what is irrelevant, but most importantly, what it all means. It is for this reason that he feels in some ways, pre-educated on how data needs to be presented for it to be readable and meaningful.
I am a firm believer that information is useless unless it has something to be compared to. Much like an analogy I have heard about money - "It's only worth what you can buy with it" meaning that a ten pound note or a fifty pound note, are essential equal as objects, it is only the difference in what each of them can be exchanged for that is important. This is a similar concept that I believe McCandless applies to information. That facts figures, data and knowledge is in some sense useless unless it can be compared to other data.
I hold this belief after looking through McCandless' "Information is Beautiful" myself. As with the example to the right, illustrating the billions of dollars that have been spent of different causes in a year, each box would have little importance until compared to the size, and therefore expense, of another box. The whole concept is reinforced hugely as I turned over the page to see a box, bigger than all of the others combined, showing just what a huge expense the Financal crisis was worldwide. I Find this comparison of data intensely effective.
McCandless also uses specific design choices to best communicate information. Our brains subconsciously take in a huge amount of visual data from our eyes, the large majority of which is useless and ignored, a form of visual background noise. On the other hand, our thought processes are carried out in words and number, like an internal dialogue in our heads that is our mind. Combining visual stimuli with word connection patterns is what causes McCandless work to be so effective. Whilst he chooses specific colours to relate to the subject data he also excludes decorative and irrelivant colours, in turn, muting the background subconcious visual stimuli that usually overloads our brain. Parallel to this, using simple sentances and bolding of key words and figures, with all text to a minimum as a general rule McCandless enables our brain to recieve the information almost subconciously. He describes it as "pouring" information into our brains.
I am a huge fan of McCandless work as i'm sure is apparent. The observations that I have made of his work, combinded with my own opinions of usefull and effective inforgraphics and his own ideas and process carried out to produce meaningful and effective work will all be kept at the forfront of my mind when producing an outcome. The work should be sophisticated and clever. Colour is so important. As I mentioned in my researcgh of Castelao's work, colouor can attract an audience and as stated by McCandless, it can also be the method to pour the information in to these attracted audience's minds.
"In his work carsten nicolai, born 1965 in karl-marx-stadt, seeks to overcome a separation of art forms and genres for an integrated artistic approach. influenced by scientific reference systems, nicolai often engages mathematic patterns such as grids and codes, as well as error, random and self-organising structures.
after his participation in important international exhibitions like "documenta x" and the "49th and 50th venice biennial", nicolai's works were shown in two comprehensive solo exhibitions at schirn kunsthalle frankfurt, germany (anti reflex), at neue nationalgalerie in berlin, germany (syn chron) in 2005, at haus konstruktiv, zurich (static fades) in 2007 and at cac, vilnius (pionier) in 2011. he is represented by galerie eigen + art in leipzig/berlin, the pace gallery and galleria lorcan o'neill in rome.
under the pseudonym noto carsten nicolai experiments with sound to create his own code of signs, acoustic and visual symbols."
The Images on the left are three of Nicolai's works from his moiré exhibition at the Pace Gallery. Although the subject and visual of the work does not relate to my phenomena of gravity, his intentions and presentations of ideas, does. In these pieces Nicolai has used various "random" techniques to create shapes and images, that capture our attention. This is due mainly to their aesthetic - use of tone and movement in the top left image, right through to dynamic shapes in the bottom last. The drawing and construction processes used to create these pieces where not in fact random. The disorganised arrangement of light emitting poles in the middle image is intentional. In this arrangement for example, we feel as though our own brain is making sense of the light forms and shapes created whilst the work is in motion, thus drawing us into the work. Again this principle is repeated in the bottom-most image, as we view the canvases we believe we can see "method in the madness" - shapes appearing from apparently disorganised lines. In actual fact Nicolai has ordered his steps to compose these drawings, in a way that cleverly lefts the audience believe they can see more than the next man, when in actual fact this feeling is what really engages each audience member to allow complex informational delivery.
Below is another of Nicolai's pieces. I wanted to briefly include this piece, as this particular work directly represents a concept (sound). The stimuli or subject to be communicated is taken in, it is then transfered into a different physical format than it exists naturally in our world, and this new physical format is re-presented. Sound is played through speakers beneath the paint tray, the vibrations of particles that is essentially sound, becomes vibration of the paint aboard the tray, and thus representing the original stimuli. I think this piece is truly fascinating and in someways maybe it is so fascinating due only to it's incredible delivery of the underlying concepts of graphic design - to communicate an idea or concept as simply as possible.
"The International System Of TYpographic Picture Educationwas developed by the Viennese social scientist and philosopher Otto Neurath (1882-1945) as a method for visual statistics. Gerd Arntz was the designer tasked with making Isotype’s pictograms and visual signs. Eventually, Arntz designed around 4000 such signs, which symbolized key data from industry, demographics, politics and economy. Otto Neurath saw that the proletariat, which until then had been virtually illiterate, were emancipating, stimulated by socialism. For their advancement, they needed knowledge of the world around them. This knowledge should not be shrined in opaque scientific language, but directly illustrated in straightforward images and a clear structure, also for people who could not, or hardly, read. Another outspoken goal of this method of visual statistics was to overcome barriers of language and culture, and to be universally understood. The pictograms designed by Arntz were systematically employed, in combination with stylized maps and diagrams. Neurath and Arntz made extensive collections of visual statistics in this manner, and their system became a world-wide emulated example of what we now term: infographics."
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Arntz's work. On the positive side, his work is clear, concise and impeccably simplified. As he was commissioned to use his most preferred process (Wood cutting: shown below) to create a form of visual 'dictionary' by Otto Neurath, it is commendable that he was able to produce around 4,000 images to represent classes of people, animals, objects and even social situations. Arntz used the wood-cutting process, as he saw this as the best way to produce categorised, simple and recognisable images that would all clearly belong to the same 'family' of images. This is proof that processes to produce work need to be selected to always favour the visual language of an outcome. He believed also that by using this process he was able to detach himself, and his own artistic influences from the work, in order to produce unbiased images and forms to represent many commonly understood concepts across cultures. Personally, I dislike the overall style of the work. I believe that despite his best efforts, it was impossible for Arntz to completely remove his own style from the images he produced. This is fair enough when producing personal work but as these outcomes were intended to communicate to an incredibly large audience, I believe the work could have been refined even further, collaboratively, to reduce the personal influence on the images.
The below illustration by Farnell (Trevor Ede) uses strong visual ques to convey gravity to an audience. Although here, many of the scientific principles of gravity are not explained, visual ques such as the large central apple, are instat links for an audience, to gravity related symbols. The apple for example no doubt reflects the work of Isaac Newton, one of the first and most prominent scientists in the development of understanding of gravity. I could have used this technique in my own work, a sort of "sprinkling" of visual clues to guide the audience through complex infromation, if thats what i chose to try to produce again.
Astronauts 'become as weak as 80-year-olds'
Astronauts who spend months in space become as physically weak as 80-year-olds, a study has found.
Researchers in the US made the discovery after testing muscle tissue taken from crew members on the International Space Station (ISS).
The calf biopsy samples revealed that after six months in orbit the physical work capacity of astronauts fell by 40 per cent.
This was equivalent to the muscles of an astronaut aged 30 to 50 wasting away to the level of an average 80-year-old.
The deterioration occurred despite crew members taking regular exercise on the space station.
The ISS is equipped with two treadmills and an exercise cycle.
Scientists fear the effects of extended weightlessness on skeletal muscle will pose a significant safety risk for future manned Mars missions.
Nasa estimates that it would take a crew 10 months to reach Mars. With a one-year stay, a mission could take as long as three years.
Professor Robert Fitts, from Marquette University in Wisconsin, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Physiology: ''The main findings were that prolonged weightlessness produced substantial loss of fibre mass, force, and power.
''An obvious conclusion is that the exercise countermeasures employed were incapable of providing the high-intensity needed to adequately protect fibre and muscle mass, and that the crew's ability to perform strenuous exercise might be seriously compromised.
''Our results highlight the need to study new exercise programmes on the ISS that employ high resistance and contractions over a wide range of motion to mimic the range occurring in Earth's 1G environment.''
Prof Fitts believes if astronauts tried to travel to Mars today they would have trouble performing even routine work in a space suit.
The most affected muscles, such as the calf, could weaken by as much as 50 per cent.
Nine American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts were tested before and after spending 180 days on the International Space Station.
Analysis showed ''substantial'' losses caused by muscle atrophy.
Starting the space flight in good physical shape did not help, the scientists found. Crew members who began with the biggest muscles also showed the greatest declines.
Despite the findings Prof Fitts does not believe plans for long-distance space travel should be abandoned.
''Manned missions to Mars represent the next frontier, as the Western hemisphere of our planet was 800 years ago,'' he said.
''Without exploration, we will stagnate and fail to advance our understanding of the universe.''
He added that in the short term, efforts should focus on fully utilising the ISS so that better ways of protecting muscles and bones can be developed.
Nasa and the European Space Agency needed to develop a space shuttle replacement so at least six crew members could stay on the ISS for six to nine months.
''Ideally, the vehicle should be able to dock at the ISS for the duration of the mission so that, in an emergency, all crew could evacuate the station,'' said Prof Fitts.
Maintaining Strength in Space:
Bone, Muscle, and Metabolic Studies
Everyday activities like walking, lifting objects, and standing upright are governed by skeletal muscles and bones. During space flight, support muscles such as those in the calf and thigh decline in volume, strength, and mass. To limit muscle weakness, astronauts regularly perform weight-loading exercises that simulate the gravity of Earth. Despite this, crewmembers continue to lose muscle strength and structure during long space flights. Space flight may result in changes to muscle metabolism, the process of building and breaking down muscle proteins, that can not be counteracted with routine exercise. Abnormal hormone concentrations and other indicators of altered metabolism have been identified during space flight, supporting the concept that changes in metabolism contribute to muscle atrophy.
|This restrictive exercise device measures the reaction speed and endurance of muscles, like those in the calf, that are particularly affected by space flight.
The skeleton provides a rigid support for the body in Earth’s gravity and is similarly affected by microgravity. Bones lose calcium, the mineral from which they derive their structure and strength, through the process of demineralization. If enough calcium is lost, the skeletal system becomes weaker and less capable of withstanding the stresses associated with daily life on Earth. Once astronauts return to Earth, the gradual process of returning calcium to skeletal bones begins; this recovery can last months even years if an astronaut’s stay in space was of substantial length. In addition to demineralization, bone marrow changes have also been linked to bone weakness. One objective of these experiments is to define changes in spinal bone marrow that may occur during and after space flight. Maintaining bone and muscle integrity is critical to the welfare and performance of astronauts. With increasingly longer missions and complex extravehicular activities, crew functioning could be limited by muscular weakness and bone demineralization. A balance between healthy nutrition, therapeutic measures, and exercise is likely to be the most effective countermeasure for changes in skeletal muscles and bones.
The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Bone Mineral Loss and Recovery investigations will not require any actions during the mission itself. Both pre- and postflight, MRI and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans are taken of participating crewmembers. These scans measure the volume of selected muscles, lean body mass, and spinal bone marrow composition. The participating crewmembers will also be tested with a resistive exercise device that measures the reaction speed and endurance of specific muscles in the ankle, leg, knee, and back.
The Protein Turnover in Space Flight study will track the balance between the two components of protein turnover that contribute to muscle atrophy: protein building and breakdown. The building of new protein from amino acids will be measured using a small amount of the amino acid alanine.
|Astronauts work together to draw blood that will later be analysed for changes in protein building and breakdown.|
The alanine contains a special tagging molecule that acts like a beacon; when the tagged alanine is incorporated into newly built protein, it can be measured to reveal metabolic changes. Similarly, breakdown of the body’s protein will be studied with tagged histidine, another amino acid. The simultaneous use of these tracers will provide a comprehensive view of how protein levels change in response to space flight. The study requires two preflight, two inflight, and two postflight data collection sessions. Each three-day session begins shortly after awakening. After an initial blood sample is taken, astronauts then ingest a capsule containing the tagged alanine. Twelve hours later, another blood sample is taken and the tagged histidine is given intravenously. Blood will be drawn at three more intervals (24, 48, and 72 hours), centrifuged immediately and then frozen for postflight analysis. Urine samples will also be returned to Earth for measurement of the tagging molecules, as well as hormone indicators of metabolism. All food eaten, exercise completed, and medications taken will be logged for the entire 72-hour session. This Protein Turnover data will be used with data from the MRI and Bone Mineral Loss and Recovery studies to calculate changes in body protein.
These bone and muscle metabolism studies offer a unique opportunity to study the physiology of healthy subjects as they are exposed to microgravity. The information gained from this investigation may benefit the many people here on Earth whose daily activities are affected by metabolic deficiencies, weakened muscles, or loss of bone mass. Some metabolic diseases, for example, result in debilitating muscular weakness, a condition that could be improved by advances in protein turnover research. Likewise, muscle wasting is problematic for senior citizens, patients confined to lengthy bedrest, patients with spinal nerve damage, and even burn victims recovering from traumatic accidents. Older people also commonly experience a loss of bone mass, a condition often due to the age-related disease osteoporosis. By exploring the interaction of aging and space flight, research on STS-95 will contribute to our knowledge of the aging process. A better understanding of bone and muscle changes in space flight will also lead to treatments for astronauts and Earth-bound patients alike.
In our modern culture, this 1936 series of images may be perceived as 'racist' . This is because we understand that not all individuals in the 5 'groups' that are shown here, appear as depicted in the images. But we do understand from seeing these images, what the 5 groups are. I believe that this boils down to our reliance on stereotypes. Again, daily we are reminded and taught not to judge individuals by common stereotypes, but in terms of communication design, stereotypes could not be more useful as made explicitly clear here. Although ethically, it may be unwise to reinforce them, stereotypes are a designers dream. They are instantly recognise able and almost everyone has them. It is for this reason that from a communication design view, it's undeniable that this piece delivers information, clearly, quickly and effectively.
Konrads is a German sculptor whom specialises in site-specific installations and objects. She has produced both permanent and temporary works for public spaces and sculputrue parks across Germany, the Netherlands, France, the USA and Australia, to name a few.
Konrads' work reminds me strongly of the work of Andy Goldsworthy. Both artists practice sculpture and apply this mainly to site-specific and land art work. Although the aesthertic between the two artists is likely to have some similarities, due to the nature of their work mainly being in rustic and found natrual materias, Konrads has in some ways, revolutionised Goldsworthy's style. In the examples shown below and to the left, I can see that her interpretation of a popluiar style of working definatley sets her apart from the crowd.
Unlike most land artists, Konrad's work has a heavy basis in expressing a "weightlessness" feel. Below we see a constructed stone wall that seems to be deconstructing infront of our eyes. The stones from the middle of the wall appear to be slowly rising from the structure, as though they are defying gravity or have been frozen in the moment after a small explosion. To the left, in Konrads' piece "Pile of whishes" the process the artist uses to create the effect mentioned above becomes cleaer. It seems as though very thin but stong transparent fibres are used to suspend parts of the sculpture from its usually percieved "normal" form (of a simple pile of stones)
I feel that these works illustrate and explain gravity in an exiting and interesting way. It seems that I could get bogged-down with information, facts, figures, diagrams and pghysics that all explain how gravity works, when in actual fact we all have a reasonably good understanding of how gravity effects us individually. We all undertand that if something goes up, it's very likely to come back down fro example. This basic understanding of gravity is what is shown in Konrads' work - when we as an audience see these works, i believe it's clear that almost instantly we would understand that the concept of gtravity (or more so anti-gravity) is being illustrated. This in turn prompts the viewer to then refelct upon their own knowlwdge of gravity, and in some ways, realise that they know alot about it already, and maybed that is all that is needed.
Lenert & Sander
I briefly wanted to include the piece below by Lenert & Sander. My reflections on Cornelia Kondrads' work to the left and below, led me to think of this piece. The conclusion I came to from my research of Konrads' work, was that sometimes an audience can be confronted with forms, images or visuals, that initiate thoughts about a particular subject area, and in turn prompt them to realise that they already know as much about said subject as in necessary. I feel that this is true also for this piece "Revenge" below. In each of the scenarios in the video, I expect to see the egg smashed by whatever threat there may be including a champagne cork about to burst or a swinging hammer. What I find is clever about this concept is that as soon as the "scene is set" in each sequence of the video, when all elements of that scenario are present, we as an audience know what is going to happen. In this way we educate ourselves on how much we already know about any given subject area - pendulum curves with the hammer or gas pressure in the champagne bottle.
The below video helped with my understanding of the "0-gravity" flights that are carried out across the world, that let members of the public and training astronauts experience weightlessness. I initially deiced to research 0 gravity experiences and how they work, to increase my understanding of gravity as a whole. The video illustrates the processes that the pilot undertakes to achieve the weightless experience, and it's effects on the passengers. My understanding and explanation of these "parabolic" flights is continued in my sketchbook.
Whole Body Vibration
I came across the video below, on a website for a tanning salon during some non-college time! The salon provides the hibervibe vibro plates that are illustrated in the explanatory video. The video intends to explain the workings and therefore effects of the product but in the process, explains partly the workings of gravity. The most notable instances of this is are when simple illustrations are used to explain the "contact force" that all objects have on the earth. This video was also very useful to widening my understanding of gravity as a phenomena and my thoughts and uses of the information is shown in my sketchbook.