Visual Communication: Not Just Smoke and Mirrors

John Maeda spoke at the MIT Media Lab this week about how art can energize science, technology, engineering and math. The event posting says “artists and designers make information more understandable, products more desirable, and new invention possible.”

Even though I missed the talk, the event inspired me to write about visual communication and science. Visual communication’s effectiveness isn’t just smoke and mirrors. Andrew Revkin wrote a post for the New York Times Dot Earth blog on the science of engaging the whole brain. The gist of the message: multimedia and visual communication help us grasp concepts and information that we might not understand otherwise. Revkin challenges data visualization experts “to find ways to envision, literally, that vague but vital concept called public health.”

Patterns of paper pollution
Paper pollution image by J. Henry Fair

Here are some examples of eye-catching visual communication:

Visual Science depicts patterns of paper pollution

Information Is Beautiful asks why the Wall Street protesters are angry

Breathing Earth shows global warming, birth and death rates

John Kyrk animates cell biology

Keep an eye on the Information Is Beautiful contest, where designers are developing ways to show the world’s non-renewable resources in multimedia format.