Thoughts on Week 4 Lecture & Resources
The Bomb Sight project, when described, sounds like an interesting historical census of the locations of the bombs that struck London during the 1940-1941 Blitz, but it’s when you see the data presented in a visual way that you really get a sense of the vast number – and a hint at the scale of the destruction that was caused. It’s remarkable, astonishing and overwhelming all at once.
I encountered the work of Forensic Architecture in the previous module (see my blog post here), so I was interested to see them highlighted in this week’s lecture, with a focus on the research and analysis they are gathering on the Grenfell Tower fire catastrophe in 2017. It’s really eye-opening to see what their multi-disciplinary team can develop and surmise from multiple sources of data, with many of these pieces of information coming from members of the public. Their projection-mapping and motion-tracking techniques in particular enabled a 3D video of the fire in real time. Revealing, as well as being extremely harrowing.
The work of information designer Giorgia Lupi seemed to me to be a really interesting take on presenting information in a more visually arresting, artistic way than the design style of a typical infographic – I love the softness of the imagery and the way they look more like beautiful illustrations or art than something that represents data.
The piece she created called Bruises – The data we don’t see is notable because it depicts something that was scary and difficult, the illness of a child, in a way that the cold facts on a medical record simply could not. I get the sense that creating it was in itself also a way of coping with a challenging situation.
This week I chose to focus on a subject close to my heart – a look at the Scottish music scene, and a sense of the huge gap the last 12 months potentially represents. The live music industry in Scotland (and pretty much everywhere else) is currently experiencing major difficulties due to the effects of the worldwide pandemic. I wanted to highlight the value it brings, and show how important the live music scene is to people, musicians, live music venues, the economy and the country in general.
In researching my data, I looked at resources from a cross-section of UK-based organisations such as the Music Venue Trust (which represents 670 independent music venues, many of them small, grass-roots settings), a 2018 night-time economy report by London Assembly and a 2017 report by the Creative Industries Federation on the importance of the night-time economy to the creative industries.
I also investigated the findings of the UK’s first Live Music Census, which was carried out over a 24-hour period in the spring of 2017 and published in February 2018, intended to measure the cultural and economic value of live music.
On a more local level, I found a number of recent reports published by Creative Scotland (a national agency for the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland) and consulted the research published as part of the Edinburgh Live Music Census, carried out in 2015.
Scotland’s Music Scene: an animated infographic
The visual aspect of my infographic is directly based on the environment you might experience at a typical live music gig – darkness with spotlights illuminating the main feature, in this case, the statistics.
(Alternatively, click here to view the infographic as an animated GIF)
Reflection on the week
One of the more challenging aspects of this week was finding the key pieces of data to base my infographic design on. I found that I did have to look through quite a number of reports in order to track down useful statistics to use.
In creating the individual frames for my animation, I chose to set the type in a typeface that didn’t have a tittle above the lowercase i glyphs, but felt that visually it looked a bit “off” without them so I designed a custom one. This was quite time-consuming to do, due to the assortment of different sizes of text used and I think if I did it again, I would deliberately seek out a typeface that did everything I required it to do in the first instance.
I had a lot of ideas about how I could visualise the data that I simply did not have the time to explore or execute – if I were to revisit this, I think some of the early concepts I thought of could be worth developing further.
I also got some peer feedback on the Ideas Wall that the animation could be made more fluid, perhaps by adding a soundtrack or working on the transitions between frames. As the graphic was conceived as an animated GIF there was no sound, but by converting it to video I could add music to give it more of a sense of rhythm. I could also look at adjusting the frame rate to give it a smoother appearance. Given the fact that my animated infographic is about the Scottish music scene, I would ideally look to use a piece created by a Scots or Scotland-based musician as the audio track.
BEHR, Adam, BRENNAN, Matt and CLOONAN, Martin. July 2014. ‘The Cultural Value of Live Music from the Pub to the Stadium: Getting Beyond the Numbers.’ Available at https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/the-cultural-value-of-live-music-from-the-pub-to-the-stadium(6b7bdd87-7d41-475d-90da-e7a45c68a282).html [accessed 16/02/2021]
BEHR, Adam and WEBSTER, Emma. 2016. ‘Edinburgh Live Music Census 2015 Pilot Study.’ Available at https://figshare.com/articles/journal_contribution/Edinburgh_Live_Music_Census_Report_pdf/3145903/1 [accessed 16/02/2021]
Creative Industries Federation. February 2017. ‘Because the night – why what happens after dark matters to the creative industries.’ Available at https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/publications/because-night-why-what-happens-after-dark-matters [accessed 16/02/2021]
Creative Scotland. August 2020. ‘Covid-19: Public intentions on returning as audience members, Wave 1 report.’ Available at https://www.creativescotland.com/resources/professional-resources/research/creative-scotland-research/covid-19-audiences [accessed 16/02/2021]
Giorgia Lupi. Available at http://giorgialupi.com [accessed 15/02/2021]
Live Music Exchange research group. February 2018. ‘UK Live Music Census.’ Available at http://uklivemusiccensus.org [accessed 16/02/2021]
London Assembly. 2018. ‘Rewrite the night: the future of London’s night time economy.’ Available at https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/london-assembly-publications/rewrite-night-future-londons-night-time-economy [accessed 16/02/2021]
Music Venue Trust. Available at http://musicvenuetrust.com/ [accessed 16/02/2021]