Marian Dörk, Research Professor for Information Visualization & Management, Fachhochschule Potsdam, and
Lamin Manneh, Albert Einstein-Fellow, Caputh
Live at the Einstein Forum, please wear a medical mask.
Data visualization has a long historical arch, notable examples of which are Joseph Priestley’s 18th century biographical time chart of “great men”, Florence Nightingale’s 19th century pie chart of mortality and its causes among soldiers in the Crimean War and the many computer-generated line charts of financial stocks that invade many digital platforms today. The act of visualizing data is an act of articulation and representation. It is always undertaken within a set of assumptions, logics, and traditions that are often hidden from view. Therefore, all data visualizations are expressions of power relations, to be revealed only when we ask where the data came from? How was it obtained? Who is the visualization for? And how is it used?
In our class Decolonizing Data Visualization – Visualizing Postcolonies taught at the Fachhochschule Potsdam, we guided students in examining historic data visualizations. Key to this examination was the context in which the visualizations were created and how they were used. The class focused on Black Atlantic History in interrogating questions of data visualization and power. Black Atlantic History follows the story of Africans from their enslavement in Africa, slavery in the Americas as well as colonial and independent era states on the African continent. As part of the workshop, students from the class will present their projects, findings, and visualizations.
After the presentations, the workshop will shift into practice with all participants engaging with the artifacts that have been created from the many years of the Einstein Fellowship Program. Giving Einstein’s Summer House a continued source of vital scholarly presence, the Fellowship has over the years generated its own archive. The goal of the workshop is to create visual interfaces on paper to access and explore the continuous scholarly presence in Caputh, thereby opening questions about representation and inter¬pretation.