Rise to the Challenge

When it comes to visualizing abstract information, graphs and charts perform a thankless task. But lately it seems as though these hardworking spreadsheets, pie slices, and colored bars lack the appropriate sense of urgency necessary to convey the current state of the environment. Responding to this lack of truly inspiring imagery is Eyebeam's Eco-Vis Challenge. Announced during this year's Conflux festival, the challenge takes two parts: 'Eco Icons' and 'Eco Vis.' 'Icons' solicits simple graphics: logos, bumper stickers, graffiti and the like which can swiftly and effectively communicate their meaning. 'Eco Vis' likewise challenges artists and scientists to create more complex data visualization tools through which we can read ecological data. Are more provocative and engaging graphics the key to increasing public awareness of pressing ecological issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, food production practices, or recycling initiatives? Maybe, or maybe not. But hopefully the creative outputs of this challenge will, like all good art, inspire us to action.