Notes From Studio

Project Development Studio

20 Feb 2019

I’ve spent the past few weeks grappeling with how I want this project to take shape. My primary inspirations for the project is a web graphic animation by SBS Australia, titled The Boat and a data driven documentary titled The Fallen of World War II.

The Boat details the passage of a girl who fled from Vietnam as a boat person. The scrolling web animation uses interactive elements to punctuate the deeply intimate story. Incorporating sound, drawings, and photographs, the story unfolds as a rich multimedia experience.

What I think is compelling in this work is the aesthetic. I am drawn to the black and white painterly lines. I enjoy the layers of drawings and the manipulation of the canvas at a technical level. The time based elements where words explode on screen and disappear add a lot of interest. I like that it has a lot of sensory experience. In some ways though it works better as a video rather than a website. The controls are a bit clunky when scrolling, but when set to autoscroll the animations are nicely timed, but the single speed animation can be too fast when a lot of text appears on screen.

The Fallen of World War II is an interactive documentary that tells the cost of human life in WWII as a 15-minute long data visualization. Supposedly the documentary is interactive, but the website is not working for me so I can’t really speak about how the tool works. The film particularly uses cinematographic technqiues to present the data. It is linear and straightforward as the narrator delves deeper into the data. The visualization technique is pretty simple and uses simple shapes and visual metaphors. The film doesn’t really do a lot of data manipulation to find connections but visualizes in a clear manner.

What I like about The Fallen of World War II is that it really humanizes data. While not a particularly pleasant man, Joseph Stalin has a poignant quote about death figures, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” I’m not certain about his intentions with the quote, it is true that when dealing with big data a lot of the emotional qualities is lost.

I hope to find a way to combine these two aesthetics and be able to use big data to give context to personal stories and the personal stories to ground the statistics.