Thursday, April 5, 2012

And the “Malofiej” goes to …

Carl DeTorres took us through his IBM graphics

Given the recent explosion of interest in data visualization, I’m just assuming you’re all familiar with the Malofiej World Infographics Summit, which takes place every March in Pamplona, Spain.

Think Cannes Film Festival-meets-Ted-meets-World Economic Forum--but for infographics. This year’s confab being the 20th, was a star-studded affair. Conference mastermind, Javier Errea, who is president of SND Spain, programmed two full days of back-to-back presentations. It made for an exhausting, yet exhilarating event. The roster of presenters, needless to say, was who’s who of Visual Journalism. (i.e. Nigel Holmes, Jaime Serra, Carl de Torres, Bryan Christie, Alberto Cairo, and John Grimwade to name a few).

The conference culminated in an awards ceremony for graphics created during 2011. The New York Times made its usual sweep, winning six of the eight Gold Medals awarded and a full one-third of the total 111 “Malos.” (I doubt “Malo” would go over in Spain as a name for an award, which, come to think of it, is probably why it’s never been used. I like it, though, in a 90s hip-hop bad-means-good kind of way.)

Design assignment: Brand this award with a nickname and trophy!

I tried making a Pin Board of the print winners. Easier said than done. Many of the graphics are not findable, and often, the print graphics have very different online versions.

Alas, many winning graphics I was able to locate are not pinnable (i.e. Nat Geo, South China News). It’s just a bit unfortunate because a “pin” retains its original-source link, and that provides an opportunity to experience sites you might not necessarily visit.  As it is, a number of the images I’ve linked to, are posts from other blogs. 

“It’s the beauty, stupid” is how I would summarize Bryan Christie’s message. Beauty, of course, cannot be defined, or taught, but we all know how powerful it is. Bryan’s epiphany upon seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta in Rome was that the force with which beauty communicates is not to be ignored by anyone, let alone an information designer. It has forever changed his work, and it is a large component of what we find so sublimely compelling about his anatomical and medical illustration.

Matthew Bloch’s map for the New York Times showing taxi rides per hour over an entire week in Manhattan involved close to two million data points and much experimentation.

We were all envious of Nigel Holmes’s artistic license authorizing him to “combine pictures and information.” We were also envious of his grandchildren for whom he makes wonderful toys from found materials.

Much thanks goes to Professor Michael Stoll who provided an exhibit of some mouthwatering vintage infographics from his collection. On display, in addition to large panels of reproductions, were original books and documents. Visit Michael’s Flickr galleries, at your own risk. Once entering, you might never emerge.

Euskara fonts popularized at the end of the 19th century, with the emergence of Basque nationalism can be found throughout Pamplona, from the stenciling on dumpsters to shop and restaurant signage. Read more about Basque typography at Social Design Notes.

Another graphic feature you’ll see in the city is the stylized scallop shell signifying that you are on the Camino de Santiago/ Way of St. James/Chemin de St. Jacques, the pilgrimage route that leads to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Luckily the pilgrimage must be walked on foot, so Shell Oil has no tie-in here.

Model of Pamplona at the city’s Archive.

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