Peter is a well-honored designer, who specialed in data visualisation. He will explain in his own words, what makes it so different from the common design approach. He is also the programme leader of our Master’s degree Visual & Experience Design as well as Creative Computing at the UE Innovaton Hub.
Do you have an actual project you working on?
Most of my current work focuses on data archeology – transforming patterns in history into an analytical science to predict the future. A recent piece ‘ Objects of War’, analyses 500 years of humanity’s most important scientific discoveries and artistic creations mapped in time with the incidence of wars, massacres and genocide to reveal reoccurring patterns of creative human output that flourish after conflict
I analysed humanity’s obsession with the apocalypse as articulated in literature and the visual arts as a means of knowing human desires for civilisational agency, and as a means of determining if dreams of cataclysm lead to tangible consequences in real life. Basically, analysing if creative culture outputs of our desires for the end of the world drive measurable changes in markers of civilisation such as social organisation and particularly conflict. Most of the computational research is done on my own.
Are you always deep dive into new technologies or how do you get to use new tools if there are new ones?
I’m actually highly skeptical of the use of new technologies and typically wait until their utility has been settled by society before incorporating them into my work. Though, most of the new technologies I use are computational in nature (algorithms and code) which have been around for decades.
Do you have a favorite prize you earned, why?
If I had to pick one prize, it would be the National Science Foundation’s, International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge that I won in 2010. It’s a visualisation competition run by the journal Science, and being a researcher myself, it was a great honor to have my work featured in the pages of the illustrious publication:
How about ideas and design, how are you gonna test if they work? Visual data is such a complex kind of design. How do you start with an idea?
My work is analytical and computational – as such, all “testing” is statistical to determine if quantified patterns are real. As for testing visual design – I simply don’t bother – whether a design works or not is mostly a matter of how well a project resonates with the public. We desire innovation, but anything that is highly innovative typically gets rejected as it is too new – change is uncomfortable for the vast majority of people. As such, my focus is on pushing the visual medium forward, not satisfying external cultural needs.