Data Stories 2020 Exhibition

A picture worth a thousand words – this could be a motto for this year’s Data Stories exhibition bringing together new insights and approaches on how to best communicate research output in a visual way.

With an open call for visualizations for all the academic subunits at CEU, the Data Stories Exhibition offers a unique opportunity for researchers to present their most important findings in a new and compelling format. Single-authored works appear alongside collaborative projects as A1 size posters, revealing a novel perspective on new research.

One of the works on display at this fascinating exhibition visualizes the number Pi (π) as piano keys – resembling a barcode – transforming a mathematical concept into a musical piece. The melody - created by taking Pi and assigning each number to a note on the A harmonic minor scale – can be listened to via a QR-code that redirects to a YouTube-hosted video. Another eye-opening work takes popular weather proverbs and myths and scores their truthfulness (or otherwise) as percentages, based on data taken from decades of weather data. “If St. Lucy's Day be bright, Christmas day will be dark with snow” turns out to be true more than 70% percent of the time. Check for yourself this coming December 13!

Visuals are key for interdisciplinary dialogue

Now in its 7th year, the exhibition is put on by the Department of Network and Data Sciences. The event actively encourages communication between students, artists and prospective employers. Mirroring the growing trend in interdisciplinary work, the exhibition encourages the formation of collaborations on similar and complementary research interests within and across CEU’s many academic departments.

“For the CEU student community, opportunities such as exhibition and its follow-up talks and lectures have the potential to create new and exciting connections between people from outside the world of data visualization. We bring folk together who hail from different contexts. Those from universities, companies who sometimes work for the public sector, and of course artists as well. This is very important as data visualization is itself an interdisciplinary subject’ says Juliana Pereira, a postgraduate student in network science and one of the exhibition curators.

“On the one hand it is a science so we have to be precise and accurate on the information we want to pass on. But on how to better show it and communicate it in a way as it is easy to understand, that’s actually coming from the arts. Bringing the two approaches together results in many different topics but the one thing in common is that each one is trying to tell a complex story in a digestible way. That’s why we call it Data Stories”

Communicating complex ideas fast and efficiently

The exhibition illustrates how digitalization visualization can be key for establishing a bridge between different fields of scientific research. By bringing together researchers, companies and artists, dialogue ensues out of three different emphasis and contexts. The scientist will focus on information that is precise and accurate, organizations require efficiency and direct line of communication to a general public, and the artist bring something that engages with our emotions. “Connecting these approaches can be of great relevance for all areas of scientific inquiry. For example, if you are an environmental scientist, you want people to care about climate change. An artist can present what may be dry scientific data in a way that captivates people and so becomes unforgettable. CEU itself is characterized by this interdisciplinary approach, open dialogue and intellectual inquiry” says Juliana Pereira.

The science behind data visualization suggests that humans are more responsive to visionary stimuli than any other sense. We are able to better process information and also remember things, if we receive them in a visual way. As Pereira notes, “The amount of information being produced by the scientific community is too much too fast: we cannot process everything. There is no way one can read all the papers in one’s area of specialism, even if it is highly specific. Scientific journals are increasingly requesting a graphic summary of the paper you are submitting and this trend will continue. The posters in the exhibition offer a good example on how that can be done. Communicating complex ideas swiftly and efficiently is the future the scientific world is heading towards.”

The Data Stories exhibition is open until February 21.

Venue: Budapest Campus, Nador u. 15, Lower Foyer