Getting their POINTS across: ICID & Industrial Design Departments team up for data visualization exhibit
“Data is all around us,” the team stated in their official theme description. “But when we hear the word “data” it seems complex and distant. Our intention is to show the friendly side of data by inviting people to pause and notice the little things happening around them.”
POINTS was unveiled in the basement floor of the C-Hub building in Kuang-Fu Campus. The design layout, organized by undergraduate senior exchange student Sean Wanna, led visitors into the purpose of the space as soon as they exited the elevator/staircase. A table of stickers containing the official POINTS logo preceded an arrestingly vivid visual and lighting display highlighting a larger welcome sign display that properly introduced the work to follow. A variety of participant projects from both the ICID and neighboring Industrial Design department then lined the pathway leading to the speaker stage and general seating.
“The group formed as a part of our Creative Industries Experience course [in ICID],” Wanna explained. “Our project topic was looking at digital design. We found an intensive Digital Design course at NCKU and took the works from this class. Their topic looked at different sizes of data - from big data to small data - and how you can make more sense of it by visualizing it or organizing it in different ways; you can manipulate what you want to say through the different ways of shaping data. Things as simple as tallying down how many coffees you have in a week is data, but there’s also massive things like the SMART Cities in NCKU program…”
The group of organizers consisted of an international team of students in the Experience course in different roles: team planning and arrangement point person Craig Bossley, website designer and exhibition construction hand Ben Huang, graphic and branding designer Amarzaya Amur, direction and marketing point person Jean Chang and aforementioned exhibition/space designer Sean Wanna. The majority of the featured projects originated from the Digital Design in Creative Industries course, taught by Professor Yen-Ting Cho from ICID. Cho served as the faculty advisor for the group and oversaw the exhibit as a fulfillment of their Creative Industries Experience course project. He also accompanied his students to the exhibit, assisting them in guiding onlookers through the space and even displaying a work of his own.
“We could not have done this without the help of our supporting faculty,” organizer Craig Bossley said during the opening remarks. Bossley assumed the role of host on the microphone throughout the event before each installation creator briefly explained their installation to the public. One such installation, organizer Jean Chang’s contribution, drew special attention from the NCKU officials present. In the true spirit of the nature of POINTS, her graphics displayed results from a previous survey polling NCKU students on how they understood the term “data visualization.” Dean of the College of Planning and Design Taysheng Jeng expressed how important he found it to see these results in an easily digestible fashion.
“We have three departments and one institute,” dean Jeng reported. “From the analysis result, I was surprised that Urban Planning showed less interest in data visualization. [But] of course that’s why we use data visualization technology: to see the reality.” Though he acknowledged the data as “preliminary”, he hailed the results as a good tool for learning “how we can improve, or should promote, the data visualization technology in all three departments.”
Other installations touched on topics relevant to the greater population. ICID Master’s candidate Jessie Lu’s project utilized three-dimensional plot points on a grid to visualize the spread of temples throughout Tainan county. Another graphic from Industrial Design student BLANK touted the efficiency of the Beijing Airport’s flight delay reporting system. The final installation presented was completed on site by Wanna, who asked attendants to pin lengths of string representing the distances they’ve traveled to attend NCKU before hanging them from a ceiling fixture over the seating lobby.
The execution of the event and its installations drew much praise for a number of reasons. Professor Cho highlighted the fact that few, if any, of the students had any background in coding before the course. He noted during the event that each project was completed within a two-week time span. The team garnered additional support for their collaboration efforts in uniting students from not only different departments, but different backgrounds and countries as well.
“I think each person in the group has a different first language, every single one of us!” Wanna expressed. The Institute of Creative Industries Design consists solely of courses taught in English and is one of the few English language degree programs offered by NCKU. Students still freely presented in either English or Chinese. The bilingual nature of the event encouraged further collaboration between local and international students in student programming efforts.
“The only way you can ever make friends or learn the language is by just trying.” Bossley, an American student, advised to other international students. “It’s going to be hard [when] there will be communication barriers, but it’s worth it. I think the most enriching kind of experience you can have in NCKU is with Taiwanese students in NCKU who can show you where the ‘cool spots’ are and other things I wouldn’t have known as an international student.”
The exhibit remained on display in C-Hub until April 27th. For anyone who missed their chance to see it, more information can be found on the team’s event website at pointsstudio.com.
(End Item: Miles Iton)