Lecture Series One
Making data meaningful—this phrase could describe what dozens of professions
strive for: Wall Street systems designers, fine artists, advertising
creatives, computer interface researchers, and many others. Occasionally
something important happens in these practices: a data representation is
created that reveals the subject’s nature with such clarity and grace that
it both informs and moves the viewer. We both understand and care.
This is the focus of Information Esthetics.
Information Esthetics, a recently formed not-for-profit organization, has
organized a lecture series dedicated to helping this happen more often.
World leaders in seven different aspects of sense-making have been invited
to speak on topics from typography to visual perception, from charting to
electro-mechanical engineering. The goal: to help expose the beauty experts
see in their databases, better engaging their whole minds in interpretation;
to help inspire art that’s not just decorated with data but makes the data
readable, satisfying viewers’ minds as much as their eyes and hearts.
The format of the talks lets us explore more deeply than a typical panel
or academic paper presentation. Each speaker will talk for a full hour,
we’ll break for a half hour of fine spirits and snacks, then sit down
again for an interview/chat led by series organizer and interaction designer
W. Bradford Paley. The intent throughout is to delve into the implications
these profound ideas have for human communication in general—but also to
share some simple techniques that people can immediately put to use in
their own projects.
The lectures will take place Thursday evenings in the Chelsea Art Museum
at 565 West 22nd street in Manhattan. They are free with the discounted
$3 museum admission, and start promptly at 6:00 pm on these dates:
Robert Bringhurst, March 31 · Typography and layout
The distinguished Mr. Bringhurst is perhaps the most recognized
typographer, a published poet, and the author of the fundamental
contemporary work on typography: “Elements of Typographic Style.”
Judith Donath, April 21 · Social computing
Dr. Donath’s group at the MIT Media Lab studies intriguing social
interactions and produces some of the loveliest and clearest visual
representations of these complex systems. She is a well-read and
careful observer of fine art
Ted Selker, May 12 · Situated devices
Dr. Selker focuses on putting intelligence into everyday objects:
his invention of the eraser-like IBM Trackpoint device transformed
laptop keyboards throughout the industry. His MIT media Lab group
continues to expand those explorations.
Lisa Strausfeld, May 26 · Real-time charting
Ms. Strausfeld is a partner in Pentagram, the respected New York
design firm. Her dense, readable information displays are well
structured, visually rich, and intellectually satisfying.
Bill Buxton, June 16 · Supporting creative analysis
Mr. Buxton is a musician, mountain climber, and interaction
designer; former Chief Scientist of Silicon Graphics; and a well-
known and controversial computer interface expert. He owns an art
gallery in Toronto with his wife and has been developing user
interfaces explicitly for designers for over a decade.
Ron Rensink, June 30 · Visual perception
Dr. Rensink is one of the world’s experts on “Change Blindness;”
a feature of the human visual system that allows major changes to
happen unnoticed right in front of one’s eyes, allowing (among
other things) magic performances to work. He studies human
perception, discovering and sharing principles useful in design.
Tamara Munzner, July 14 · Large data sets
Dr. Munzner specializes in information visualization: showing
complexities in subjects that range from genetically-determined
phylogenetic evolutionary trees to environmental sustainability.
Her work is informed by an eye developed under her art-teacher
father, and often reveals structure more clearly as a result.
This lecture series is an Information Esthetics production, made possible
by a project of Digital Image Design Incorporated. The talks are presented
by The Project Room at Chelsea Art Museum by producer/curator Nina Colosi,
and are supported in part by the Department of Computer Science at
Generous volunteer efforts support Information Esthetics, including high-
reliability Web site hosting by Michael Rosenthal, Web site supervision by
Perry Metzger, and (soon) graphic design by Warren Kemp. Please contact i.e.
director W. Bradford Paley if you would like to volunteer, be put on our
mailing list, or otherwise participate.
The organization's Web address is http://InformationEsthetics.org.