Investigating the Language of Network Representations
A project in collaboration with
École de Recherche Graphique in Brussels, Belgium,
Multec at EhB in Brussels, Belgium, and
ISI Foundation in Turin, Italy,
with the support of STUDIOLAB, a European platform for creative interactions between art and science.

CONTEXT

We increasingly use the conceptual framework of networks in our conceptualizations of socio-cultural and other complex systems. These conceptualizations are formed and disseminated with the help of representations, often in a visual form.

The expressive quality of those representations depends on the expressiveness of the graphical language used to construct these representations. This workshop is part of a project that pursues an art-science investigation of the representational language used in network visualizations in order to develop novel expressive means for representing networks. By doing so, this project aims to facilitate a more versatile conceptualization and deeper understanding of social and other complex systems, and improve our behavior and planning with respect to these systems accordingly.

The proposed investigation is intrinsically multidisciplinary. The analysis of the subject matter expressed in terms of networks entails the involvement of network science, complex systems science, and social sciences. The investigation of the language aspects requires input from linguistics, cognitive science and cultural studies. And finally, the creative component of the project relies on the engagement of communication design and artistic practices.

The workshop consists of three morning lecture and discussion sessions. The first deals with the visualization of data and information in general, and the visualization of networks in particular. The second session is concerned with the language of graphics in general, and network representations in particular. The third session covers more advanced aspects of networks and their representation. Each of these session will be followed by an afternoon exercise session in which the participants will be challenged to conceive novel expressive means to represent certain non-trivial aspects of networks. During the final two days the participants will be invited to further explore and develop one of their ideas from the exercise sessions and produce a “scientific conference poster” that presents and motivates their proposal.

CONTEXTE

Aujourd’hui, les structures en réseaux sont de plus en plus souvent utilisées pour conceptualiser et figurer les systèmes complexes (et les systèmes socioculturels en particulier). D’autre part, très souvent, ces concepts sont traduits visuellement pour en faciliter l’expression, la représentation et la dissémination. Les qualités expressives de ces représentations sont directement dépendantes de la qualité du langage graphique mis au point à cet effet.

Le présent workshop s’inscrit dans un projet de recherche art-science qui investigue le langage visuel des structures en réseau pour développer de nouvelles formes de modélisation. L’objectif étant de faciliter, à la fois, la découverte et l’analyse en profondeur des systèmes complexes (sociaux et autres) pour pouvoir adopter à leur égard un comportement conscient et un regard critique.

La recherche proposée est intrinsèquement pluri-disciplinaire. L’analyse des réseaux dont il est question implique la rencontre de disciplines différentes : science des réseaux, science des systèmes complexes et sciences sociales. L’investigation de l’aspect sémantique implique l’apport de la linguistique, des sciences cognitives et d’études culturelles. Enfin, la composante créative du projet repose sur l’implication du design graphique et des pratiques artistiques. Le workshop se compose de trois sessions de conférences et de débats en matinée.

La première séance portera sur le contexte et les objectifs du workshop, la visualisation des données et de l’information en général. La deuxième séance parlera du design de graphiques en général et de la représentation des réseaux en particulier. La troisième séance abordera les aspects les plus complexes des réseaux et de leurs représentations. Chacune de ces séances sera suivie, l’après-midi, d’une session pratique durant laquelle quelques exercices concrets mettront les participants au défi de concevoir de nouveaux moyens d’expression pour représenter certains aspects des réseaux. Lors des deux derniers jours, les participants développeront en profondeur une des idées conçues pendant les exercices des séances et réaliseront des présentations par “affiche de conférence scientifique” de leur conception.

WORSHOP AT ERG, OCTOBER 2012

These are some pictures taken during the workshop that took place from October 8 till October 12, 2012, at the École de Recherche Graphique in Brussels.

Picture taken during the workshop showing students at work in the atelier.
Workshop participant at work in the atelier.
Picture of a computer screen that shows an experimental graphical representation of a dynamical physical interation network with ternary relations.
Experimental graphical representation of a dynamical physical interation network with ternary relations.
Picture of a draft of an experimental graphical representation of a dynamical social network.
A work-in-progress draft of an experimental graphical representation of a dynamical social context network.
Picture of a set of paper cubes used to create a movie of an experimental representation of a dynamical social network.
Paper cubes used to create a stop-motion video of an experimental representation of a dynamical social network.
Picture of a computer screen that shows a video editing application showing the work-in-progress on an experimental multi-media representation of a dynamical social network in which nodes are tracks and links (interactions) are 'mix-points'.
Work-in-progress on an experimental multi-media representation of a dynamical social network in which nodes are tracks and links (interactions) are "mix-points".
Picture of drawings on paper showing schematic drafts for an experimental representation of interlocking kinship trees of recomposed families.
Schematic drafts for an experimental representation of interlocking kinship trees of recomposed families.
Picture of the final posters displayed on a wall at the end of workshop.
The final posters displayed on a wall at the end of workshop.

RESULTS OF THE WORSHOP AT ERG, OCTOBER 2012

These are the posters created by the five groups. Click on the image to load a version with a higher resolution.

Group 1

Dany Borges, Camille Collin and Alicia Eyongoou

The first of two posters in which group 1 presents their workshop results, linking to a high-resolution version.
The dsecond of two posters in which group 1 presents their workshop results, linking to a high-resolution version.

Group 2

Emeline Brulé

The posters in which group 2 presents their workshop results, linking to a high-resolution version.

Group 3

Lucie Schwob, Nicolas Peillon and Marie Nepper

The posters in which group 3 presents their workshop results, linking to a high-resolution version.

Group 4

Chloé De Smet Van Damme, Lisa Harchies, Amandine Maloux, Laure Pica and Emilie Ronsmans

The posters in which group 4 presents their workshop results, linking to a high-resolution version.

Group 5

Anthony Versluys and Julien Bertouille

The posters in which group 4 presents their workshop results, linking to a high-resolution version.

PROGRAM

Day 1 - Monday October 08

Morning Session - Visualizing networks

Lectures: data visualization - networks and their role as a conceptual framework - overview of the state-of-the-art of network visualization

Afternoon Session

Exercises: representing non-symmetric edge properties - representing n-ary relations

Day 2 - Tuesday October 09

Morning Session - The language of network representations

Lectures: the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of the language(s) of graphics - a closer look at the language of network visualizations

Afternoon Session

Exercises: representing higher-order structures - exploring the pragmatics of network representations

Day 3 - Wednesday October 09

Morning Session - Beyond static networks

Lectures: dynamical networks - hierarchical networks - processes and causality structures: chain reactions, feedback loops, catalysis, etc.

Afternoon Session

Exercises: contextualizing networks - encoding time in dynamical networks - representing processes and causality structures

Day 4 & 5 - Thursday & Friday October 10 & 11

Atelier Sessions

During the final two days the participants will be challenged to further explore and develop one of their ideas from the exercise sessions and produce a “scientific conference poster” that presents and motivates their proposal for a novel expressive feature to represent some aspect of networks.

LEAFLET

Thumbnail imag of page 1 of the Leaflet. Thumbnail imag of page 2 of the Leaflet.