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TOSH exhibit in Qualicum Beach aims to make data accessible for residents

Gallery hosting Simon Fraser University project
Foroozan Danesh is a PhD student in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University. (Photo by Kevin Forsyth)

The Old School House Arts Centre (TOSH) in Qualicum Beach hopes one of its summer exhibits will help people better understand data.

The gallery (122 Fern Rd West) is hosting a project called ‘Data Reflections’ by the InnoVis (Innovations in Visualization) Group from the Interactive Experiences Lab (ixLab) at Simon Fraser University (SFU). This group specializes in human-computer interaction and information visualization.

“We are trying to combine data with some artistic artifacts,” said Foroozan Danesh, a PhD student in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. “Like a more visual representation of data to make important data more accessible, more engaging and more understandable for people.”

The goal is to make the information more memorable for people and to close the gap between data scientists and the public, Danesh said.

The displays illustrate data including the number of deaths from last year’s B.C. heatwave, the history of CO2 emissions in different countries and how different industries contribute to climate change.

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Visitors can interact with some of the exhibits. One lets people demonstrate how much trust they have in COVID-19 data from different sources, such as the government or social media. The amount of wool they wind around a spool indicates their level of trust in that source.

Danesh stayed in Qualicum Beach for two weeks to educate TOSH staff about the exhibit, so they can explain it to patrons.

“It’s a very good chance for all of us,” she said. “We usually study the efficiency and understandability of techniques in the lab, but it is usually controlled environment. Now here we have the chance to see in real context how people, how real visitors like it, what they dislike about it.”

The InnoVis Group uses an interdisciplinary, human-centered approach to invent, design, prototype and study novel interactive data visualization and computing systems with the intention to empower people and make it easier for them to tackle technology and data challenges. InnoVis is led by Sheelagh Carpendale.

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Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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