Data drawing pen pals

Posted to Data Art  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Stefanie Posavec, known around these parts for her manual data design and Giorgia Lupi, known for constantly drawing and searching for complexity, are sending each other data postcards once a week for a year. They call the data-drawing project Dear Data.

Each currently lives outside her home country — Posavec in London and Lupi in New York — and each week they collect data about daily life. Then instead of writing about it, they visualize their data through manual drawings on postcards and send the results to the other.

By creating and sending the data visualizations using analogue instead of digital means, we are really just doing what artists have done for ages, which is sketch and try to capture the essence of the life happening around them. However, as we are sketching life in the modern digital age, life also includes everything that is counted, computed, and measured.

We are trying to capture the life unfolding around us, but instead we are capturing this life through sketching the hidden patterns found within our data.

They’re on week 28 right now. Eight of them are up on the project page.

The above cards represent when each person picked up her phone. The pair below shows when they checked their appearance in the mirror.

Mirror check

You’ll notice right away the creative aim towards unique representations of the data, as each postcard comes with reading instructions. If you’re familiar with Posavec and Lupi’s work, you’re not surprised.

What did surprise me was how distinctly their styles showed through the sketches. I mean, these are just small postcards. Lupi favors small symbols and encodings typically distinct in space, with warmer colors on a faded background. Posavec favors connections and lines with an organic feel overall, with bright colors on a white background. (At first I was reading the to address as the from address and I was really confused.)

Such a fun project. See more postcards and stay updated on new ones.

Favorites

19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World. Top All-time. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. Watch.

Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.

Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores

A closer look at the age old question of where there are more bars than grocery stores, and vice versa.

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.

This is an American Workday, By Occupation

I simulated a day for employed Americans to see when and where they work.