Perspectives on computer simulation and data visualization

When it comes to critical analysis of the role of computers, data visualization, simulations and modeling in the sciences, much can be learned from humanities scholars. I’m currently teaching a course on the role of computer-generated images in contemporary science and visual culture at Utrecht University. Yesterday I learned that the New Media department hosts two very interesting events. Today, Tuesday October 18, there’s a workshop on software applications as active agents in shaping knowledge. The two keynote speakers are Dr Eckhart Arnold (University of Stuttgart), expert in the field of simulation technologies, and Dr Bernhard Rieder (University of Amsterdam), who researches how computers and software organize knowledge.

A week later, on October 25, Setup will host an event on data visualization at the Wolff Cinema movie theatre in Utrecht. Some of the most striking recent data visualization projects will be displayed on screen, and the following questions will be addressed: what makes data visualizations so appealing? Do they bring across the same message as the ‘raw’ data they originate from? Ann-Sophie Lehmann (associate professor New Media en Art History, UU) will discuss the visualizations and will throw light on some of the effects they have on viewers. One question that came to my mind is what this particular context (a movie theater) does to the (reception of) the visualizations, compared to a web-based interaction on a laptop or PC, for instance.

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