DISCOVER Visual Research – Autographic Visualisation

Autographic visualisation really appeals to me, as one of my main ambitions with this project is to draw attention to often-overlooked parts of the city.

The framework of autographic visualization starts with the question: how would visualization practice look like if we consider data not as something abstract, but as something material?

Data visualization begins once data exists; the process of data collection remains mostly hidden. Autographic visualization starts with physical phenomena and ends with data.

Autographic visualization is a set of design operations that focus on revealing physical traces to make the process of data collection more legible and accountable.

It generally produces quite visceral results, communicating with more visual immediacy than a neatly drawn illustration or infographic. Of course illustrations and infographics are also powerful tools for communication, but I have no need to convey detailed information in my work.

In the list of references below I might be taking a bit of a liberty with the definition of Autographic Visualisations – however, for the purposes of my project I am interested in how people have used elements of the environment to shape and create visual work. Anything that creates a direct link between the environment and the work itself.

Sam Winston’s ‘Drawing Breath‘ is a record of the artists breathing over a 15 hour period. “The length of each line marks the length of time it takes to exhale” – this is far more controlled than Eileen White’s mark making but still quite evocative I think. I’m not sure what I would document in this way – maybe my footsteps on a walk?
Stephen Gill often incorporates materials from his surroundings into his photographs – “This time Gill has collected flowers, seeds, berries and objects from Hackney, East London, that were then pressed in his studio and re-photographed alongside his own photographs and found ephemera, thus building up multi-layered images extracted from the area. Some of the base photographs were also buried in Hackney Wick, allowing the subsequent decay to imprint upon the images, stressing this collaboration with place.
Stephen Gill, Coexistence – “I filled a red plastic mop bucket with water from the pond, and dipped my underwater camera into this pond water prior to making portraits of the Dudelange residents. Later on I also dipped the prints into the pond itself, so microscopic life was also transferred onto the surface of the paper.”

The Solar Annual Report – “Solar energy is the main business of our client Austria Solar. That’s why we thought about how we could put this energy to paper. The result: the first annual report powered by the sun. Its content remains invisible until sunlight falls on its pages. “The Solar Annual Report 2011 – powered by the sun””
Low-Tech magazine have made a solar-powered website – if there isn’t enough sunlight then you can’t access it.
Not an autographic visualisation, but this got me thinking about ways I could make the wind visible – perhaps with some kind of powdered pigment, or spray.

Below are some previous material experiments I did using the cyanotype process.

Next steps based on this research-

  • Document footsteps on a walk
  • Bury some visual experiments
  • Cyanotypes using local river/canal water
  • Experiments to visualise the wind – powdered pigment, spray paint, spray bottle of ink