In our short video animation, or better our whiteboard animation, called “The Power of Infographics”, we present the infographic “Freedom in the World 2015” as issued annually by the non-governmental organization Freedom House. With an increasing amount of people studying increasingly complicated topics, there has been a huge development of tools to present complex information in an understandable way. Our infographic serves as a starting point for a critical discussion on the function, effects and visual characteristics of infographics as a medium. In addition to that we were interested in finding a relation between an infographic and its impact on International Relations – the same applies vice versa.
As we try to stimulate our viewers to think beyond what the image tries to say, we’d like to point at this video’s metanarrative on the perils of visualization: the whiteboard animation in itself also necessarily reduces complexities, emphasises and omits. In the process of making we experienced and learned how visualization is an act of interpretation. Attempts to effectively communicate easily result in the reproduction of stereotypes such as the depiction of the United States as the Statue of Liberty. Thereby it made us more aware of the plethora of symbolics that is embedded in our understanding of the world and how these are employed to communicate ideas. We tried to show that visualization of complex data and background information certainly has its advantages but also disadvantages which the viewer has to be aware of. Therefore we hope to provide not only a critical discussion of our subject, but also aim to stimulate a critical reflection on our own visualization.
By Karunia Fischer, Coen Berkhout, Mark de Hoop, Anneke Bremer