People in Data and Drama Fall Final Project


PetaPixel did a study (Zhang, 2015) about how one man was represented by 6 different photographers. Each professional photographer was told something unique about the man's occupation; to one photographer, he was a fisherman, to another he had saved someone's life and to a third he was a successful millionaire. All these characteristics were false, but the photographers were told to represent the man the best they could in their photo.

Photos of the man represented from left to right as a fisherman, life saver and millionaire, by different photographers.

This study reveals two important aspects of representing people; firstly, it shows how the character of a person can be used to represent them through the angle, distance, expression and setting of the photo and, secondly, it shows how people perceive each other based off the information available to them.

The following study takes certain aspects of people and represents them using technology and design mediums. There are three different levels of perception to each representation; by collecting the data or discussing the work with the person, they are deciding what part of themselves they would like to reveal which might influence their representations, then there is the perception of myself as the compiler of this information into different forms of representation, and finally there is the audience who see the final representation and decides what that means about the person.

What each visualisation might reveal about the volunteer is omitted, allowing the viewer to create their own judgments. Therefore, before trying to understand the visualisations which follow, it may be helpful to go through analysing two representations of the same person in different media; data visualisation of Leonard Cohen based off Google search trends and a sketched self-portrait by Leonard Cohen.

Graph 1. Graph, created by Google, of search trends of Leonard Cohen over the past 5 years where 100 is referenced by the point at which there were the most searches for Leonard Cohen throughout the 5 years.
Figure 1. Data visualisation, created by Google, showing the countries and their search trends for Leonard Cohen over the past 5 years. The opacity of the countries on the left is directly proportional to the amount of searches within that region. The 5 countries with the top number of searches are listed on the right. The reference point for the max amount of searches is given by the country with the most amount of searches, which is Ireland.

The data visualisations above allow the viewer to make some assumptions about Leonard Cohen with little previous context. For example, the small rises in Graph 1. might represent the release of a new single, while the steep peak from a few months ago has an amplitude so much greater than the previous peaks, that it is rational to assume that it represents a more significant life event.

Figure 2. can tell us something of the singer/songwriter's heritage. He is most popular in Ireland, Canada and Israel. There are a number of ways to read into this data, however the most obvious would be to assume that Ireland is his home country, he happens to be extremely popular in Canada, and his Jewish name means that his popularity in Israel may be due to his religion. However, this is not all true. Leonard Cohen was originally Canadian. In this case, as a viewer with context, I am able to see how this visualisation represents a piece of misleading information.

Figure 2. Self-Portrait by Leonard Cohen (2007)

This self-portrait is a representation of how the artist views a part of himself. The work is made out of many harsh lines, where the outline of the face is as emphasised as the bags under his eyes and the wrinkles around his nose. These features, which represent age and fatigue, can give the viewer a clue to the emotional state of the person. The lines also distort the figure as they pull the face downwards. This adds to the heaviness of the gaze in the figure's right eye. The text on the drawing; "just one little guy, with an old tweed cap, against the whole stinking universe", supports the idea of the artist's hopeless mood.

There is one assumption that can be drawn from both visualisations; Leonard Cohen is Jewish. In both visualisations, the combination of knowing the artist's name, as well as the data about Israel, or the small sketch of a Star of David, affirm this inference. However, the visualisations also provide information on very different aspects of Leonard Cohen; by looking at his popularity over time, versus, his own personal and emotional representation. In this way, it is possible to see how representations emphasise only certain aspects of someone's character.

The representations above are filled with different connotations that can be extended endlessly by any observer. It may be that an analysis of the visualisation reads into it more than the data shows (such as with the analysis of Figure 1.) or the artist intended, but that is also the interesting emergent property of any visualisation where the symbolism and information that creates it, is not always the symbolism of the end product to every observer. For this reason, the visualisations of people that follow, will be, and should be, interpreted differently by each viewer.


Daily Routine

Figure 3. Legend showing the colour that represents each daily action of Sleep, Work/Study, Class, Food/Leisure, Procrastination, Minerva Activities and Other.

Alondra Garcia

Figure 4. Colour bars representing Alondra Garcia's days from Monday, the 5th of December, to Thursday, the 8th of December, using the Figure 3. Each bar represents 24 hours and the amount of time of each action is proportional to the amount of space that it takes up.

Giovanna Chaves

Figure 5. Colour bars representing Giovanna Chaves' days from Monday, the 5th of December, to Thursday, the 8th of December, using the Figure 3. Each bar represents 24 hours and the amount of time of each action is proportional to the amount of space that it takes up.

Gelana Tostaeva

Figure 6. Colour bars representing Gelana Tostaeva's days from Monday, the 5th of December, to Thursday, the 8th of December, using the Figure 3. Each bar represents 24 hours and the amount of time of each action is proportional to the amount of space that it takes up.


Ivana Gruevska, Liberty Pim and Oren Dar

Figures 7 to 9. labelled from left to right. Three radar charts based off how important each life aspect is for Ivana Gruevska, Liberty Pim and Oren Dar from a scale of 0 to 10, as well as adding one aspect not mentioned in the initial survey which is crucial to their lives; Coffee, Goofing around and Contemplation, respectively.


Kroner, Amelia

Figure 10. The frequency bar of Kroner's voice as she tells her life story in 4 minutes.

Ewa Szyszka

Figure 11. The frequency bar of Ewa Szyszka's voice as she tells her life story in 4 minutes.

Fabian Okafor

Figure 12. The frequency bar of Fabian Okafor's voice as he tells his life story in 4 minutes.


Photography and Design

Nadav Wachs

Figure 13. Photo collage of Nadav Wachs which represents different aspects of his character.

Phoebe Meixner

Figure 14. Illustrated photo graphic of Phoebe Meixner which represents different aspects of her character.

Mika Lanir

Figure 15. Illustrated photo collage of Mika Lanir which represents different aspects of her character by incorporating her own original illustrations.

Film and Media

Bella Nepo

Izzy Rousmaniere

Eric Lin


The above representations were created by both the person being represented and my own interpretations of the information provided to me about them. Therefore, to end off this process of information, representation and perception, I am "giving up control" and allowing others to generate perceptions of their own.

Figure 12. Fabian Okafor

"When you compare it to Kroner's and Ewa's you can see how their frequencies are really big, but then you can see how Fabian's [...] [has] a lot of [...] dead space which just speaks a lot to him and it kind of makes me laugh because it reminds me of him and the way [...] he contemplates what he wants to say before he says it. [...] I think it shows a lot about [...] the way that he chooses his words."- Meredith Ramba

Video 2. Izzy Rousmaniere

"[...] the way that her voice was layered into it, it kind of made it seem like it was one of those scenes in a movie where she is the protagonist and she is going through this big bout of depression and it [...] seems like she is attempting to remain hopeful but with the background noise, just something about the angling in the video [...] I get this sense of pain from within her [...]. I also get [...] the religious component of it because she is singing 'shalom' which is obviously a Hebrew word and you also see the little palm on her necklace and I assume that that's something that has to relate with Jewish culture, and so I think that was emphasising her Jewish background [...] and something that knowing Izzy I can really relate to her about, but I also think it's interesting to see the contrast because also knowing Izzy, I think she is a very upbeat and happy person [...] so the comparison with that and what the video showed, was very interesting and very different." - Lavanya Aggarwal

Video 3. Eric Lin

"I got that he has a strong sense of bi-nationality and bi-culturalism and he is [a] very relaxed person and he's very comfortable and a good raconteur." - Seth Gordon

Figure 10. Kroner, Amelia

"I get the feeling that she's a very high energy person that when she speaks she is either yelling or speaking in a loud volume and that she maintains constant flow like when she's speaking she doesn't really use many pauses." - Seth Gordon

Figure 6. Giovanna Chaves

"Specifically talking about Giovanna here, I think it's interesting to compare this chart with the others because you kind of assume given that they all have the same classes and school times. [...] For example here, if you look at Giovanna's in more detail you can tell that she probably skipped a class or something here and also she generally sleeps very little so [...] it kind of makes me want to compare it to my own life and [...] think about how do I spend this time and particularly for the sleep [...] I could not live with a schedule like that; getting up at what's probably 5am in the morning or something. Just generally seems like very different from my own personal life." - Michelle Hackl

Figure 13. Nadav Wachs

"Amongst all the visualisations that you did, I found this really interesting because most of them are trying to make a comparison between two or three people, but [...] in this one, at first sight it seems like you're actually trying to apply the same meaning from the three postures and when you see them like that you know that each of them are trying to say something different, so actually makes you focus even more in trying to find the differences in between all these three variations of this person." - Shpend Beqiri

Video 1. Bella Nepo

"I think the fact that I already know her and knowing that Buttercups is her favourite character and then seeing how all these important cartoons play a huge influence on the person she has become. I'm guessing "Alice in Wonderland" has something to do with her adventurous personality or the side that is more into exploring things and having this own Wonderland of hers [...] and at the same time showing clips of herself and the things that she is closely related to or the things that she [closely] associates [...] to." - Aleezae Adeel

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