Things Visible and Invisible

Things Visible and Invisible This may seem a very ‘out there’ topic for a blog for Organic Gardener, but it got me thinking about a range of ideas about the way civilization is developing and how we exist within it. Things Visible and Invisible is the name of a posting by Jeanne Haffner, PhD, that appeared in Architecture Boston (Vol 12 No 4). See the link below, because you really need to look at the graphics to get into this. It’s about ‘data visualisation’, specifically ‘infrastructure data’. It involves the graphic representation of data and topographical space, from ship locations around the world at a point in time (a globe dotted with each ship marked), to cell phone use in Amsterdam on New Year’s Eve. In the latter, there are two images shown, representing text messages sent at 9 am and also activity at midnight. The SMS visualization tool developed by Aaron Koblin, creates quite beautiful images. In the first there is a very shallow web of colours covering the city surface and in the latter a tower of colour surging up like the blurred neon of a city nighttime. Suddenly all the mostly invisible patterns of frenzied activity of our world, can be visualised, and for me, made more real. I wondered what it would be like to chart the activity of gardeners heading out in the morning, or moving around their garden over a year. Don’t ask me how this would be done, but I’m sure it could. Haffner says of the data visualization: “It moves us to reflect upon the spaces in which we live and work. Removed from the chaos of everyday life at the street-level, the geometrical forms of transportation networks, roadways, and even healthcare policies become visible, and therefore more comprehensible. Like a child staring into an Etch-a-Sketch, we are tempted to imagine alternative transit systems and links between disparate places, not to mention the political and economic structures that produced them.” Link:

On a much more straightforward note, I am heading to the Gardening Australia Expo in Brisbane next Friday to Sunday (April 16, 17 and 18) at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, halls 3 & 4, Southbank. Come and hear Jerry Coleby-Williams at the new Organic Circle stage, and visit the Organic Gardener stand for the expo subscription offer of a free Peter Cundall Pete’s Patch DVD.

By: Steve Payne

First published: April 2010

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