Diagrams for Critical Visualization

In 2021 I made a series of diagrams for a book called Critical Visualization by Peter A. Hall and Patricio Davila. It was published at the end of 2022 and the contributor copies recently arrived.

As the title suggests, this work takes an in depth look at how data is presented and how the viewer of visualizations can understand and accommodate for the inevitably biased systems that produce the data and its representations. It is filled with case studies of existing data visualizations as well as detailed commentary on their significance in relation to the books themes. I made 4 diagrams which appear throughout the book. These diagrams were meant to augment the authors ideas and were commissioned specifically for this work. It was a stimulating creative challenge and a fun opportunity to share my obsession with diagrams with Peter and Patricio as we worked through these images together.

Photograph of the front cover of the book Critical Visualization.
Photo of a two page spread in the book Criticial Visualization.

The Diagrams

What is an Assemblage?

This diagram describes the concept of Assemblage, as originally conceived by Gilles Delueze and Felix Guattari.  The concept of assemblage would be later incorporated into Actor Network Theory.  The bottom panel describes the "data assemblage" that created the "Hockey Stick" graph, most famously used by Al Gore to show how human activity is affecting global warming.

What is Actor Network Theory?

This diagram describes how Actor Network Theory can be used to analyse a real world situation by showing how Florence Nightingale was able to identify and organize the relevant networks that would enable her team to research and test new practices and eventually significantly reduce troop casualties during the Crimean War.

What is Situated Knowledge?

What is Situated Knowledge?

What does it mean to Decolonise Knowledge?

What Does It Mean To Decolonize Knowledge?

Process Photos: "What is an Assemblage?"

This is the first draft of the assemblage diagram. The diagram was sectioned off into panels as as way to explain different aspects of "assemblages". This sketch was for a double page spread. Later, when the dimensions of the book were finalised, the diagrams were assigned to a single full page each.
This is the first draft of the assemblage diagram. The diagram was sectioned off into panels as as way to explain different aspects of "assemblages". This sketch was for a double page spread. Later, when the dimensions of the book were finalised, the diagrams were assigned to a single full page each.
This sketch was created during a remote meeting with the authors. In this meeting they suggested using one horizon line in each diagram as a way of simplyfing the "space" of each image. I think it was a good move as it did increase the readability  of the images and created continuity among them
This sketch was created during a remote meeting with the authors. In this meeting they suggested using one horizon line in each diagram as a way of simplyfing the "space" of each image. I think it was a good move as it did increase the readability of the images and created continuity among them
This version was refined to accomodate the authors suggestions in the previous slide. These suggestions mostly had to do reformatting the diagram so that there was a single horizon (or plane) on which to ground the diagram and also with editing out concepts that  lacked relevance to their text. This version is still in its two page format.
This version was refined to accomodate the authors suggestions in the previous slide. These suggestions mostly had to do reformatting the diagram so that there was a single horizon (or plane) on which to ground the diagram and also with editing out concepts that lacked relevance to their text. This version is still in its two page format.
This is the first sketch as one page illustration. You can see elements of the final image taking shape and being positioned.
This is the first sketch as one page illustration. You can see elements of the final image taking shape and being positioned.
This is the final sketch. The main difference is the addition of the "data assemblage" panel across the bottom of the image. I created this section by referring to the research paper that originally proposed "the hockey stick" graph and showing how various agents collaborated across disciplines in order to create a diagram that includes recorded data as well as data from paleo-geographical records that look deep into the past, before any human record keeping.
This is the final sketch. The main difference is the addition of the "data assemblage" panel across the bottom of the image. I created this section by referring to the research paper that originally proposed "the hockey stick" graph and showing how various agents collaborated across disciplines in order to create a diagram that includes recorded data as well as data from paleo-geographical records that look deep into the past, before any human record keeping.

1 thought on “Diagrams for Critical Visualization”

  1. I adore your work. It is extremely inspiring. I too am becoming obsessed with diagrams and diagrammatic thinking and your work has helped me enormously. Thank-you so much for sharing!

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