Saturday, August 28, 2010

Making Information Beautiful

The arts have traditionally been a refuge for those who don't enjoy or trust science and math. This makes it difficult for some art educators to warm up to design and visual communication because these areas utilize several languages working at the same time - the language of the eye (images, objects, places and experiences) and the languages of words and numbers.

Dave McCandless (left) finds beauty in visualizing information so we can see the patterns and connections that matter and then designing that information so it makes more sense or tells a story that allows us to focus on the information that is important. He argues that combining the language of the eye with the language of the mind allows us to start speaking two languages simultaneously with each enhancing the other. He provides many examples in his book "Information is Beautiful" (right).

At a time when information overload and data saturation causes a breakdown of trust and runaway skepticism we need to use data visualization to help us make sense of this data glut. McCandless says, "Visualizing information is a form of knowledge compression. It's a way of squeezing an enormous amount of information and understanding into a small space."

Visual education for the 21st century needs to include visual communication and design along with the traditional art and visual culture.

Click on the heading above to hear McCandless' presentation at TED.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Learning About Architecture With LEGOS

Students need more opportunities in school to explore spatial relationships. Spatial relationships consist of objects (3D) such as product design and environments (4D) such as architecture and landscape design.

Legos and other 3D modeling materials are good ways for students to move beyond the predominantly 2D (drawing and painting) projects to explore three dimensions without making another clay pot or a papier-mache mask.

Architecture is different than 3D (objects) so we refer to it as 4D to reflect the spatial character of environment design. This makes it important, in selecting architectural projects, to keep students from thinking they are making an object (a sculpture) and help them realize that they are making a model to represent a spatial environment people would walk around in. They have to imagine themselves inside the environment to really learn something about spatial design.

A current exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. shows architectural models made with LEGOs. LEGO® Architecture: Towering Ambition will run through September 5, 2011 so any school planning a trip to Washington, D.C. should include the National Building Museum in their itinerary.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a collection of replicas of 15 buildings from around the world made entirely from LEGO bricks created by Architect Adam Reed Tucker. Tucker, one of 11 LEGO Certified Professionals worldwide, created large-scale models of some of the world's most famous structures including the Empire State Building, St. Louis' Gateway Arch, and Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece Fallingwater.

Visitors to the exhibit are encouraged to create their own LEGO buildings to include in a LEGO community. Based on the principles of good urban design, participants are invited to create a building from one of the four categories—residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial—and then place the LEGO models on a large-scale map of a city.

Click on the heading above to see the National Building Museum website about the LEGO architecture exhibit.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

5D is the World of Immersive Design

The design world consists of 4 domains - 2D is graphic design; 3D is product design; 4D is design of spaces and places; and 5D is the design of immersive experiences. Now there is a group and conference for those interested in the 5D world of immersive design.

5D | The Future of Immersive Design is the visionary, international conference for all designers, practitioners and students working in the fields of narrative media like movies, TV, video games and theme parks.

Digital technologies are blurring the boundaries between the creative and interactive experience of visual art, entertainment, environmental design and the built environment. For all those engaged in the visual processes of world-building and storytelling in narrative media, 5D is the platform for exploring the present and future of immersive design, and its impact on all aspects of trans-media space. 5D identifies and unites a vital community of designers and image-makers while serving as a catalyst for innovation.

Keynote speakers include Shekhar Kapur (right): film director, producer, adventurer and poet, and Jeff Kipnis: preeminent architectural critic, theorist and designer who will open up the conference with their discussion, "CHAOS and MISBEHAVIOR".

The conference will take place at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University, October 8-9, 2010. Presented by the University Art Museum (UAM) at California State University, Long Beach and the Art Directors Guild (ADG), this international conference assembles the design world’s leading pioneers and academics in an open exchange of ideas and insights about new design processes within the entertainment industry and the delivery of the immersive experience.

Click on the heading above to go to the 5D website and learn about other speakers, topics, and panels.

PBS Airs Tribute to Sam Mockbee

Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio will air on PBS, Monday, August 23 at 10 pm. Architect Samuel Mockbee (right) created a radical approach to involving the community in architecture with his Rural Studio in one of the poorest parts of Alabama. Rural Studio is a design/build education program, in which students create beautiful architecture for impoverished communities in rural Alabama.

Through interviews with Mockbee, the PBS documentary Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio shows how a group of students use their creativity, ingenuity and compassion to craft a home for a destitute musician. The film reveals that the Rural Studio is about more than architecture and building.

Mockbee’s program provides students with an experience that forever inspires them to consider how they can use their skills to better their communities. Interviews with Mockbee’s peers and scenes with those he’s influenced infuse the film with a larger discussion of architecture’s role in issues of poverty, class, race, education, citizenship and social change.

Click on the heading above to go to the PBS site.

Department of Visualization at Texas A and M University

Texas A&M University is creating the future by combining art and science in their Department of Visualization. If K-12 schools included the concept of visual literacy instead of art by itself the visual art and design program would take its place right along side reading, math and science.

The Department of Visualization is built on the realization that the advent of high technology information, imaging, and media systems has fostered a modern renaissance in visualization. According to their website, during the European Renaissance, many of the period's great painters were not only artists, but also scientists, architects, and engineers. Today's visualizers need skills spanning these older disciplines as well as several new ones, such as computer science, video technology, and psychology.

Click on the heading above to see a reel of student work from Texas A&M University.