Data visualisation is the graphic representation of facts, figures, and statistics, which intends to represent information in a way that is simultaneously conclusive of the data portrayed, and informative for further analysis and discussion.
In the past there has been such a strong focus on the precise rendering of data using basic graphic elements, namely through tables and graphs. While this can ultimately fulfil the original purpose of data visualisation (to efficiently and visually communicate information), it is not enough. This treatment of data visualisation is outdated. With the growing respect for creating “good design”, the aim isn’t only to communicate information anymore, now there is a need to grab a viewer’s attention and stimulate their engagement in a way that isn’t only informative, but also offers insights and something to relate to on an emotive level. What is the use of accurately visualised information if nobody is interested to look at it? Neutral colours and bland stylistic elements are neither expressive nor visually engaging. Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg present an interesting discussion on the matter:
Geographical maps are a visual representation of the locations of places, but just like insipid graphs, they do not inspire visual engagement or interaction since they are only there as referential sources. How can we make maps interesting to look at and engage with? Cartograms, for example, are already more interesting as they communicate more than just location; the distorted shapes that originally represented land area and distance is determined by an alternative variable, the result of which the viewer can relate to on a more personal level.
A world map that is designed to show the governmental boundaries of countries and states provide a medium in which people can pin-point a place that they associate with their national identity. But what constitutes national identity when boundaries have shifted throughout history? When national identity is a perceived understanding constructed by humans themselves, based on a wide array of cultural and political notions, such as food, language, history, values, etc… how does someone choose to define their national identity in a world of increasing globalisation, migration, and multicultural cities?
This project, aims to provide a reflective insight on the subject of what constitutes national identity through a mapping and visualisation of shifting borders that have defined nations throughout history — when is a better time than now to reflect on such matters than in the wake of political and social turmoil affecting everyone on a global scale.
The visualisation of data will encourage viewers to compare the concept of “national identity” from what is told to them, to what they have learnt and understood through their own experiences. It will demonstrate that an accurate representation of data and visually engaging graphics are not mutually exclusive, rather the latter enables more meaningful perception and understanding of the subject. Finally, this project will exercise the methods to create a successful design response, where aesthetics and function go hand in hand.