Headshot of Dietmar Offenhuber

Autographic Design – the Matter of Data in a Self-Inscribing World


Co-sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary Media Arts

Speaker: Dietmar Offenhuber, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of Art+Design at Northeastern University

Date: 2024-4-04 12:30 pm  (TALK CANCELLED)

Technology Square Research Building (TSRB, 1st Floor Ballroom)
85 Fifth Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30308

Data analysis and visualization are crucial tools in today’s society, and digital representations have steadily become the default for presenting claims about the state of the world. Yet, more and more often, we find that citizen scientists, environmental activists, and amateur forensic investigators are using analog methods to present evidence of pollution, climate change, and the spread of disinformation.  

In my talk, I will discuss Autographic design as a non-representational framework of visualization based on the notion that data are material entities rather than abstract representations. Focusing on the materiality of data generation, the goal of autographic design is to make the process of data generation legible and accountable. In the institutional politics of whose data is accepted as trustworthy, autographic design reverses representational rules – instead of adopting experts’ methods and representations, it challenges these representations through sensory displays that emphasize traces, imprints, and self-inscriptions. 

Dietmar Offenhuber is Associate Professor and Chair of Art+Design at Northeastern University in the areas of information design and urban affairs. He holds an MS and a PhD in from MIT (Medialab & Urban Planning). His research focuses on the relationship between data and design in the social context. Dietmar is the author of the award-winning monograph “Waste is Information” (MIT Press) and has published books on urban data and accountability technologies. His new book “Autographic Design – the Matter of Data in a Self-inscribing World” examines material visualization practices and the production of evidence.