Stefanie Posavec: “Visualizations are performances”

“I tried to code, but I was no good at all”, data illustrator Stefanie Posavec confessed at Since you can clearly make great work without knowing how to code yourself, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Besides that Stefanie says she is drawn to an analogue way of working. In London Posavec talked about the attraction of analogue.

On the road Visualization - Stefanie Posavec

Posavecs visualization of Jack Kerouac book ‘On the Road’.

Physical impact

“I like doing things by hand because of the physical impact of data. It has an effect on the body, and I like how it affects ones life.” She remembers “bending over my laptop during the long hours of data gathering.” Most people can only imagine how much time the process of gathering data by hand takes – or how your back hurts after sitting in the same pose for too long.

On the road Visualisation in progress - Stefanie Posavec

Stefanie Posavec gatherd the data for her visualization of On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, by hand.

Shaping force

Stefanie sees gathering data as an endurance test. “It’s intense and mentally taxing”, she explains. When choosing such an intensive method, the act of gathering the data must be as equally important as the visual outcome. “For his 2013 annual report Nicholas Felton tracked all his communication data – off course this shaped his life.” He too experienced the shaping force of data gathering.

Performance art

After the data gathering comes the act of visualizing. “That’s a performance.” Stefanie Posavec compares herself with data artists Sam Winston and Nick Felton. “Sam visualized his breaths with a pencil lines. Visualizing his gathered data like this is him performing.” She calls Nick Feltons annual reports “a souvenir of his data performance”.

2013 Annual Report - Nicholas Felton

Page of Nicholas Feltons annual report 2013.