/reimaginings/

February 2004

Supported by LEF Foundation

/reimaginings/ is a critique of the current culture of data visualization, hyperlinking and relationship mapping. Databases, visual graphing tools, and other Internet technologies have made it possible to connect any packet of data to any other packet of data. The illustration of these relationships through research papers, graphs, animations and dramatic reenactments is often a display of technical wizardry designed to assert the importance of the case being made and to intimidate with complexity and rhetoric. Who makes the decisions about how meaningful relationships between data points are constructed? Who designs the database and the user survey? Who writes conclusions?

More than anything, who transforms data into information? /reimaginings/ makes the case that these functions are anything but neutral in a world of information overload. /reimaginings/ is an _imaginary_ research project designed to use Instant Messaging conversation data to “improve” the Newtonian 7-color spectrum by adding more colors to it. Visitors to the /reimaginings/ project upload their IM conversations into a database, map the lines of the conversation to colors and view conversations reenacted using images and text-to-speech voice technology.

By aiming for an absurd goal (improving Newton’s Color spectrum by adding more of the same colors) and using absurd methodologies (mapping colors to IM conversations), /reimaginings/ provokes the visitor to question the veracity of data-mapping, hyperlinking and scientific rhetoric by constantly being perched at the edge of language, graphic and technological seduction and an uneasy sense that the project is incomprehensibly complex and ridiculous.

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