Mat Van Den Art's Blog

4.3 Case Study 2

Posted in MDes Dissertation by matvandenart on August 11, 2010

Video 24 )

Resolution of problem between data and our understanding of it requires innovative approach to message communication in order to spread public awareness. Jonathan Harris’s innovative approach to digital communication demonstrates potential of digital media to acquire and interpret information in innovative ways changing the way our mindset is exposed to incoming information, ultimately changing our perception and contextual understanding of the dataset.

Daily we are exposed to the gigantic numbers in our news, by our sciencists or statemen. The numbers our brain just doesn’t have the ability to comprehend. Harris attempts to use this raw language of data, and translate it into a more universal visual language, that can be felt. He aligned himself with the mantra of computer artist and composer Golan Levin: to design tools that are instantly knowable but infinitely masterable—like the pencil or the piano.

Jonathan Harris’s projects We Feel Fine and Universe encourage us to realize the wide public can become visualcommunicators who have a great opportunity and responsibility to contribute to challenges of global era.

The goal for me is really to hold up a mirror to the world, and then open that mirror up to the larg est number of people possible. I wanted to get away from the heavy hand of the designer or painter projecting a single viewpoint, and move toward a model where I was basically creating the tools and platforms and systems that could be interpreted and used in many different ways, based on the viewer’s inputs.

Harris identifies ‘word monopoly’ as the core of the communication problem. “It always comes back to the word. There’s all these other kinds of concepts and realities that exist in the world that should be usable as search queries, but right now we’re limited to keywords. And that doesn’t do justice to reality. It’s a good start, but I don’t think it’s the endgame.”

Jonathan Harris attempts to develop a new artistic language for a new human condition on the Internet. The language of hyper-reality where no more communication is limited by words. We Feel Fine project uses varieties colours and shapes for representation of statistical data.

The word is the lens. You can’t have the lens at seventy-three degrees Fah renheit, or the lens of despair and sadness,” he says. “

Graphical simplification of visualized dataset based on colour, size, placement and motion of the analysed context enables audience to create an emotional relationships to to subject of visualization. Visualized information ultimately presents a comprehensive contemporary portrait of the global contextual landscape in which it appears in, exploring the ups and downs of information context in all its color, chaos, and candor.

This approach to data visualization gives us an opportunity to base our emphatic enquiry around the search of object, emotion, person or event.

Harris’s experimental communication work enables the development of the new form of world view, the holistic world view where we can see the inter-connection of our world: the environmental footprints 1,000 miles away of the products we buy; the social consequences 10,000 miles away of the daily decisions that we make as consumers.



49) Andrew Blum. Dreaming in Code.[document on the Internet]. Intelligent Enterprise; 2007 Jun 20 [cited 2010 July 6]. Available from:

50) Jonathan Harris. Dreaming in Code.[document on the Internet]. Intelligent Enterprise; 2007 Jun 20 [cited 2010 July 6]. Available from:

Video 24 ) Jonathan Harris. The Web’s secret stories [podcast on the Internet]. TED; 2007 Jul [cited 2010 July 16]. Available from:


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  1. Content « Mat Van Den Art's Blog said, on August 11, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    […] 4.3     Case Study 2 […]

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