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Much More than Pretty Pictures!

Data visualization brought to the fore at the AIAS conference 'More than Pretty Pictures – The Aesthetics of Data Representation' when science and art met for four days

Photo: Jesper Rais.

Beginning with one day of pre-conference workshops, the three-day conference held at the AIAS on 13-16 April 2015 attracted about 60 researchers who took the opportunity to discuss their academic work and interest in data visualization and representation. Focus was on the aesthetics of data representation and involved, among other things, computer science, art, molecular biology and philosophy.

The keynote by Prof. James Elkins raised the issue of visualization euphoria and addressed different image functions such as explanatory, exploratory and evidential functions. Another keynote by Kelly Krause, Creative director at the weekly journal Nature, offered valuable insights into the processes behind the creation of scientific images for publishing. Likewise, the keynote by Martin Krzywinski raised the question of communicative power of scientific images and graphics. From a philosophical point of view, the keynote by Dominic Lopes considered the relation between cognitive and aesthetic values of images.

From the many interesting talks (4 keynote talks and 18 papers in total) and the intense discussions during the conference, it was clear that bringing together different thoughts from different fields to discuss data representation was immensely valuable. The discussions were very lively due to the fact that all participants were very keen on gaining insights from different fields. Several new collaborations were started during the three days on the intersections between art and science.

New people, new ideas

The conference was the first of its kind organized by AIAS fellows only. When AIAS fellows Lotte Philipsen (art history) and Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard (data visualization) met during their fellowships at the AIAS, they began discussing scientific images, aesthetics and representation in general. Eventually, they organized the conference in order to qualify their discussions by bringing in a number of participants from different fields.

See more on the conference website


Organizers and contacts

Lotte Philipsen, AIAS Fellow, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, at lottephilipsen@aias.au.dk
Rikke Schmidt Kjærgard, AIAS Fellow, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, at risk@aias.au.dk