15 June 2011

abstract vs. mimetic

And the questions start to flow… here’s our first batch:

1. In his book Beautiful Evidence, Tufte suggests that a competent diagram addresses this question: “What are the content-reasoning tasks that this display is supposed to help with? (Tufte, 136)” In other words, the success of a presentation depends on its content , clarity, and breadth. We all know about the concepts of abstraction for clarity, and we understand that a total solution is better than a partial one, but where is the median between too much and too little?

2. “Minard’s last work is an anti-war poster. (Tufte, 134)” Minard has an obvious bias in his work. Does it carry more meaning because of his leaning? How does the collective work of a designer affect the particular diagram?

3. What does Tufte mean by “flatlandy thinking (Tufte, 130)”? Can you think of precedent disregard for Tufte’s 6 principles of analytical design? Is Tufte on the right track?

4. “Human activities, after all, take place in intensely comparative and multivariate contexts filled with causal ideas: intervention, purpose, responsibility, consequence, explanation, intension, action, prevention, diagnosis, strategy, decision, influence, planning. (Tufte, 139)” Since it seems every human behavior is infused with most of these variables, how do we overcome the sheer volume of these inputs to come up with a valid presentation?

5. “One is guided by a sense of where characteristic aspects of the phenomenon might reveal themselves. One discards weak, unclear instances and neglects unnecessary repetitions. One matches each example with the tentative concept, thereby completing, rectifying, trimming it. (Arnheim, 187)” What does this thesis mean for arriving at an architectural concept?

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