• Editorial: Information is ugly

Fass, John, Yamada-Rice, Dylan, James, Shelley, Lewis, Matt and Pappas, Grace, 2022, Journal Article, Editorial: Information is ugly Visual Communication, 21 (3). pp. 377-383. ISSN 1741-3214

Abstract or Description:

Design frameworks that outline the benefits of thinking in terms of binaries suggest that, as designers, we can situate ourselves and our work in relation to opposite extremes. Doing so is more likely to bring about innovation and imagine ideological possibilities. This Special Issue creates a binary between ugly and beautiful with a specific focus on the former. The standard dictionary definitions of ugly are in relation to an unpleasant or repulsive appearance or a topic that is likely to involve violence or other unpleasantries. We draw both definitions into our discussion.

We have collected articles that have at their heart ugly topics, including the climate crisis, racism and digital surveillance, which reflect contemporary times. As we write, a war has begun in Ukraine. The news shifts the global pandemic to second position and shunts Black Lives Matter, the rising cost of living in the UK, widening social inequality and the climate crisis out of the news headline. Each news package is filled to the brim with infinite amounts of ugly information. We push for a rebellion against the convention of beautifying data, such as became mainstream following the popularity of Information Is Beautiful (McCandless, 2009) and other works emphasizing the sleek graphic design of data visualization. Instead, we seek to engage people in exploring how to research, analyse and present ugly information in other ways.

We aim to encourage thinking beyond one mode and focus attention on the complex array of ways in which modes can meet and combine. We suggest that hybrid assemblages of digital and physical materials can reach audiences via their senses in new ways. We seek to encourage readers to find their own connections between modes, materials and senses in order to understand and communicate complex and particularly ugly issues in innovative ways. We shift our emphasis from visual communication towards experience and interaction. In other words, we try to bring about ugly information experiences, ones that more accurately reflect the profound crises of capital (Fisher, 2009), nature (Chase et al., 2020), and spirit (Danese et al., 2020) that characterize the present moment.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W210 Graphic Design > W213 Visual Communication
Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
School or Centre: School of Communication
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/14703572221093555
Uncontrolled Keywords: Visual Arts and Performing Arts; Communication
SWORD Depositor: Unnamed user with username publicationrouter
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2022 10:03
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2022 10:03
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5122
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