Out of Statistics : Beyond Legal

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Project "Out of Statistics: Beyond Legal" is a series of fifty two digital prints on rice paper that is created based on the latest crime statistics in the United State. Using custom algorithms, this project employs an aesthetic-oriented approach other than the conventional visualization technique. The most common crimes in a specific state are presented as one abstract image, composed of drawing strokes the authors defined from their study of experimental drawings, which are then situated following various design principles, in particular, randomness and compositional rules. The final output are images with a dual purpose – poetic/aesthetic, but with underlying information encoded. Expectantly the pleasing visual becomes the avenue that draws the viewer in – perhaps engages the viewer sufficiently to draw him/her into decoding the visualization with the aid of the legend. The visual style of the images shows clearly the oriental influence; rice paper as the medium adds extra elegance to the prints.

Even based on the same data, different designs of drawing strokes and/or different mapping relations to the crime types may produce dramatically different outcome, thus alter the viewer’s perception of the information. This series also hopes to raise the awareness of credibility in data visualization, and at the same time bring into question how viewers read information out of statistics.

*: Data made available by TRAC @ Syracuse University

created by Rebecca Ruige Xu and Sean Hongsheng Zhai (click names to see bios)
rebecca.xu at gmail dot com
sean.zhai at gmail dot com