My hands track time

Giorgia Lupi, information designer and partner at Pentagram, was one of the initial inspirations for my thesis project. Lupi describes her work as “data humanism”—a reaction to impersonal computerized data science. She embraces people over numbers, quality over quantity, and subjectivity over neutrality. Her collaboration with Stefanie Posavec shows the obsessive written documentation that goes into her everyday data collection.

As COVID-19 shut down the city of Baltimore, I struggled to figure out how to finish a thesis project that was conceptualized for a physical space. Instead of fighting to keep with my plan, I decided to embrace what was. I was incredibly anxious as a high-risk immunosuppressed person who had spent months concentrating on making art about my illness. As we all were, I was suddenly very focused on the things my hands were touching. On March 14th, I decided to write down everything I touched that day.

As I began making my data story of my hands, I created a weaving path of items I had touched. My first instinct was to make the shape of the path correspond to the item's location in my small apartment. However, the directional information didn't really translate into the long-scroll web medium. I looked for more ways to add dimensionality.

I added a layer of health memories about hands, drawing on work collecting body memories from my classmates which I had done early on in my thesis process. The visuals of hands also grew out of the other videos I had created for that project.

I decided that the through-line of my data story should be time—health memories of hands going back ten years and small moments of touch happening in the present. I added a gradient on the long-scroll to add warmth to the story and to reference a light turning on at the beginning of the visualization (the beginning of my day). The white timestamps recede into the background and add dimensionality more than information. The data story in its original form also includes animation. The micro-animations mimic the tiny changes happening in the mostly static environment of my own apartment.

View the full data story.

#COVID19 #HighRisk #chronicillness #spoonies