This is a foundational course on information design and aesthetics, promoting data literacy and visualization competencies for designers and analysts. With a focus on social engagement, this course prepares students with the critical skills to advocate visually and the intellectual context to engage in a world in which data increasingly shapes opinion, policy, and decision making. Students will learn to curate and uncover insights from large and complex data sets using code-based visualization platforms, digital design software, or analog prototyping techniques to create plots, graphs, indexes, and maps that explore the database as a cultural form.

Students will study the fundamentals of design and the grammar of graphics while investigating hierarchies, patterns, and relationships in data structures. Students will examine the role of scale, proportion, color, form, structure, motion, and composition in data visualization. The intent of this course is to build a community among the students and the larger discipline.

Students will familiarize themselves with the necessary vocabulary to communicate and collaborate with data visualization professionals in future contexts. A series of presentations, screenings, readings, and discussions expose students to artists and designers working in the context of data visualization and the digital arts. Each student will select a research topic and present a research report in conjunction with an in-class discussion. Assignments are invitations to invent and experiment.

Read the syllabus…

Weekly Schedule

  1. 1. Introduction to the course
  2. 2. Visual Encoding: Retinal Variables
  3. 3. Visual Encoding: Data Models
  4. 4. Intro to P5.js: Drawing to the Canvas
  5. 5. Interpolating Values in Space and Color
  6. 6. Categorical Representations & Conditional Logic
  7. 7. Iteration – Repetition with Variations
  8. 8. Exploratory Visualization
  9. 9. Working with External Data
  10. 10. Data Ink & Vector Exports
  11. 11. Human Perception & Color
  12. 12. Final Project Ideas
  13. 13. No Class (Thanksgiving)
  14. 14. Final Project Development
  15. 15. Final Project Troubleshooting
  16. 16. Final Presentations & Wrap-up