Posted on June 1, 2014 by Juan Francisco Saldarriaga

Citi Bike Rebalancing Study featured on Visualising Data's "Best of the Visualization Web...June 2014" list. 

Visit the link below to find out more:

http://visualisingdata.com/index.php/2014/08/best-of-the-visualisation-web-june-2014/

Posted on March 31, 2014 by

The New York Times, City Room contributor Matt Flegenheimer on Juan Francisco Saldarriaga's research on CitiBike trips: 

"Since its introduction last May, the Citi Bike program has attracted 100,000 annual members but far fewer daily subscribers than expected, a combination that has contributed to the system’s precarious finances as operators look to expand.

The math is simple: Regular riders strain the system through repeated use, leading to higher costs. A new data visualization project demonstrates this phenomenon, and makes clear the degree to which the bike share system has become interwoven into the city’s transit network."

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Posted on February 27, 2014 by Juan Francisco Saldarriaga

On February 27th, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga gave the lecture The Uncertainties of Data at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. This lecture was part of the City as Resource Lecture Series.

Visit the links below to find out more:

http://www.zhdk.ch/?pid=61281 & https://vimeo.com/90226947

Posted on February 10, 2014 by

Advanced Data Visualization Project written up by Johnny Magdaleno on The Creators Project

"Since technology is responsible for growth in the world’s collective knowledge, it also shares the responsibility of categorizing that knowledge into easily digestible bites. Because what’s the use of this glut if it can’t easily be understood? And in order for data to have the largest possible impact, doesn’t it make sense for it to be understandable by researchers and blog-readers alike?

This conflict is one of the main issues breathing life into the Advanced Data Visualization Project (ADVP), a data analyzation project now in its second year at Columbia University. Birthed from a collaboration between international newswire Thomson Reuters and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), the ADVP is looking to make intricate systems--like neurons, international port logistics and library catalogues--both easily readable and stunningly beautiful."

Visit the link below to find out more:

http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/turning-cryptic-data-into-beautiful-digital-mosaics

Posted on October 24, 2013 by

"Kurgan's Close up at a Distance is an ingenious and exciting push at the margins of what is possible to see and understand using satellite imagery, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The book is a review of and reflection on her provocative artistic and design projects using geotechnologies since the early 1990s."

Geographical Review, Volume 103Issue 4pages 584–587October 2013

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Posted on October 23, 2013 by

Million Dollar Blocks on view in MoMA's Design and Violence exhibition. Thanks to Steven Pinker for this article about the project:

"Information graphics have been given a bad name by USA Today. Many people think of them as ways of tarting up the trend of the day into a bit of eye candy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our ability to understand cause and effect in the world depends on grasping complicated relationships among variables—how people, money, actions, power, things, and qualities are distributed in space, how they vary in time, and how they affect one another. The human brain did not evolve to do such complex calculations. But we are primates, with almost a third of our brain devoted to vision and visual cognition. Translating complicated relationships into a visual format is the best way we have of co-opting our primate neural circuitry to meet the demands of understanding our world. And it is a challenge where the creativity of artists, graphic designers, and other visual thinkers is essential. We have made do with standard graphical formats—pie charts, line graphs, organizational charts, and so on—for more than a century. We need ways to figure out how to use the resources of the page or screen—shape, contour, color, shading, motion, texture, depth­—not just to channel data into brains, but to reveal subtle relationships as visual patterns."

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Posted on August 24, 2013 by

Columba Peoples reviews Laura Kurgan's Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology and Politics in Society and Space

"Laura Kurgan’s Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology and Politics is an insightful and innovative book that defies straightforward classification, ‘poised’ as it is “at the intersection of art, architecture, activism and geography” (page 17). Its subject matter—satellite images, satellite mapping and remote-sensing images—is by now an established concern of critical geographical scholarship in particular (see, amongst others, Cosgrove 2001; Crampton 2008; Crampton 2010; della Dora 2012; Dodge and Perkins 2009). Readers familiar with that scholarship will doubtlessly recognise many of the issues and debates broached by Close Up at a Distance: over the military origins of satellite technologies, images and mapping and the extent to which this still imposes secrecy and restrictions on their availability; on the promise and perils of ‘participatory’ cartography and the ‘democratic’ potentialities this may or may not offer; and finally, whether and how the increasingly ubiquitous use of satellite images and mapping might “transform … our ways of seeing and experiencing space” (page 14). The distinctive feature of Kurgan’s work in addressing these issues, though, is that it rejects the proposition that scholars can or should simply evaluate and respond to these at a ‘critical distance’: “[W]e do not stand at a distance from these technologies, but are addressed by and embedded within them”, Kurgan argues. Hence, “Only through a certain intimacy with these technologies—an encounter with their opacities, their assumptions, their intended aims—can we begin to assess their full ethical and political stakes” (page 14)."

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Posted on August 24, 2013 by

"What do we see, when we see the world? In today's world transcended by digital technology and flooded with representations, models and mashups the question of 'what are we looking at?' becomes more important. The many layers of data and visualisations in many cases start clouding the subject or in some cases appears completely detached from it and develop a dynamic of their own. 

The kind of critiques are nothing new and have been heard through out the past decade. How perception is manipulated with information has been discussed for example in the book How to lie with Maps by H.J. de Blij , 1992. Here de Blij presents examples of representations and how they are used to favour certain aspects. Or also indeed The Power of Maps by Denis Wood, 1992, You are Here by Katharine Harmon, 2003 or the Atlas of Radical Cartography edited by Alexis Bhagat and Lize Mogel, 2008, to name a few of the recent cartography/mapping books of the recent years. 

In a new Zone Books publication Close up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics Laura Kurgan presents her research work and offers a theoretical discussion on the usage and employment of representations."

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Posted on August 23, 2013 by

Treavor Paglen reviews Laura Kurgan's new book Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics in Bookforum. He writes: 

"On December 24, 1968, Apollo 8 emerged from its fourth lunar cycle on the first manned mission to another celestial body. “Oh, my God,” cried astronaut Frank Borman as the spacecraft emerged from the moon’s dark side. “Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up! Wow, is that pretty.” Crew member William Anders grabbed a modified Hasselblad camera and shot what has become an iconic photograph. In countless reproductions, Earthrise depicts our planet in the distance, a blue-and-white spot rising above a cratered and ashen lunar landscape, set against the blackness of space.

Laura Kurgan’s Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics opens on a reproduction of Earthrise and of another iconic image of Earth, the Blue Marblephotograph, shot four years later from Apollo 17. These two pictures are some of the most widely reproduced in history. In the popular imagination, they’ve become synonymous with the environmental movement, underlining the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, we live on a small, isolated, and fragile planet. But the pair of images are also emblematic of something else: the dawn of what historian Benjamin Lazier calls the “Earthrise Era.” We are now deep within this revolutionary moment—pictures and dynamic maps generated from space-based platforms are a part of our everyday lives. Since mapping technologies first began trickling into consumer products such as GPS navigation systems and smartphones, the view from above has become so ubiquitous that we seldom reflect on it. “We do not stand at a distance from these technologies,” Kurgan writes, “but are addressed by and embedded within them.”"

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Posted on August 23, 2013 by Laura Kurgan

How a Map Is Like an Op-Ed

"Thanks to the open data movement, anyone can be a cartographer. Professor Laura Kurgan on geography as a storytelling tool.

Thanks to the open data movement and Google Map Maker, anyone with a computer can create a map. These maps tell a story, but it's a subjective one. And while that can be a powerful tool, it can also skew perspectives and cloud a debate.

"We should really teach people to read maps in that way," says Laura Kurgan, an associate professor of architecture at Columbia University. "Maps are arguments, just like a piece of written journalism is an argument."

That's what Kurgan is attempting to show in her new book, Close Up at a Distance, which includes several of her mapping projects. When Kurgan graduated from architecture school, she says, digital technology was just starting to enter her field. Today, data is everywhere. It opens a much larger realm of mapping and interpretation."

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