Data visualisation – is it art?

Posted on March 29, 2011 by


My colleagues on my City University Journalism MA recently wrote a great post about data journalism on the alumni website, X-City. For their article, ‘Data on data’, Jemima had commissioned a graphic designer, Jessica Palmer-Tomkinson to create infographics for them.

This got me thinking about the blurring boundaries between visualised data and art. Are infographics pieces of art? As the visualisation of data has become more commonplace, these visualisation have become more striking in a bid to stand out.

Infographics have become objects of beauty to be admired to shake off the idea that data is dull. Indeed two popular books, David McCandless’s Information is Beautiful and Beautiful Visualisation (buy here on Amazon) suggest by their very titles that infographics are all about looks.

More tellingly, there is a website, called ‘Day-To-Day-Data’, which showcases the work of  “artists who collect, list, database and absurdly analyse the data of everyday life”, creatd by artist Ellie Harrison in 2006.

Image credit: Day to Day Data, Ellie Harrison

But as journalists we have to ask – will this pose a threat to the real story being told by an infographic – will just their aesthetics be appreciated and their content glossed over?

What do you think? Join the debate here…

Posted in: Data, Visualisation