Public Data Visualization

Module Description

This module focuses on what happens when buildings become screens through the application of programmable and data-responsive LED façades and expressive architectural lighting. How can we use mobile devices linked to large scale displays to interact with one another, and with important societal issues through the hybrid spaces these structures create by collecting user input and re-centering individuals through networks that are hard and soft, actual and virtual?

This module explores how we might support a more participatory public culture in which we identify and engage with collective presence, memory, and action through combinations of information and architecture enabled by digital networks, ubiquitous mobile devices and sensors, and dynamic architectural displays.

Module Level: Intermediate - Students should have a grasp of the basic concepts of information visualization and interactive urban screens.

Complimentary Modules:
Information Visualization and Mobile Devices
Interactive Urban Screens

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • evaluate the social impact on stakeholders and community members represented by a context-specific public data visualization project;
  • identify technologies required for a public data visualization project and social networks it engages;
  • reflect on the different ways that new technical and social assemblages may change the nature of public space, civic debate, and community.
Suggested Learning Activities and Assignments

Through a series of short expert video interviews with designers, architects, technologists, curators and urban scholars linked to case studies, students are asked to propose, plan and reflect critically on the design and impact of public data visualizations.

Case Studies: Utilizing concepts drawn from mini-lecture videos and interviews with Canadian artists, theorists, new media companies, and technologists, students identify a current or historical public data visualization project and develop a case study utilizing online resources and documentation.

Project Proposal and Justification: Building on materials developed for their case study, students prepare a proposal for a public data visualization project using new visual design strategies, and interaction designed to support a participatory public culture that re-imagines possibilities for collective presence, memory, and civic action.


Dr. Dave Colangelo (OCAD University) is an adjunct professor a Research Consultant for Streaming Museum in New York City. His research and writing focuses on expanded cinema, screen cultures, and the impact of digital media on art, curation, architecture, and scholarship. Colangelo’s writing has appeared in Public Art Dialogue and The Journal of Curatorial Studies. His work as a media artist (with collaborator Patricio Davila) has been presented at numerous national and international arts festivals.

Dr. Patricio Davila (OCAD University) is an Assistant Professor teaching in the Faculties of Design, Liberal Studies, Digital Futures and Graduate Studies. Patricio is director of the ZeroLab at OCAD U, a research lab dedicated to using art and design practice and research to make sustainable futures visible, accessible, and equitable. His current work focuses on the politics and aesthetics of participation in urban space, visualization and visibility through an inquiry of information visualization and through large-scale interactive public projections.