The recent firerside chat at Signal v’s Noise with three of the most innovative artists/designers working in the area of information visualisation is an enlightening read. Each has their own particular perspective and approach to ‘infoviz’ as Wescamp puts it. Harris is interested in the ‘humanity of the web’ which might be excavated through the visualisation of hidden data. Koblin describes himself as an artist eventhough his background is in game design, and Wescamp admits to being an ‘interaction designer’ with a strong interest in information visualisation because it provides ‘a little bit of every world, art, visual problem solving and engineering’.
Their discussion the nature of their creative process is interesting, especially the role of experimentation and paper-based sketching in realising their ideas. While it is evident that typographic design is not a major focus for any of them, it forms an integral part of both Harris (Daylife, We Feel Fine) and Wescamp’s work. Harris and Koblin both note the impact that Wescamp’s Newsmap had from a design perspective.
“I think one thing that Newsmap demonstrates, which is important, is the fractal qualities of good design. For instance, you can glance at the grid and instantly see the largest stories overall, and the relative importance of sport vs. business, but then you can move closer and see the individual stories that compose the grid. Those orders of scale are important.” [Johnathan Harris, June 5, 2007]
In my view, whether consciously or unconsciously, Harris and Wescamp are breaking new ground in screen based typography and there are many inherent attributes within their work that signal innovative if complex future directions for the discipline.