HATSAC. The art historian in me imagines this. A bad pun, I know, but I make it to make a point. Monet's "Haystacks" series is enough to excite any art historian. The paintings are classically Impressionist and are representative of all the vitality and innovation that marked the Impressionist's approach as outside existing boundaries.
The point? For the digital media and visualization scholar in me, the work and discussion coming out of HASTAC are equally exciting, equally innovative and equally about opening boundaries. Of course, the analogy isn't 1:1, but one I thought worth sharing nonetheless.
Needless to say, I am excited about joining and contributing to the HASTAC community. And since it is just that -- a community -- I want to use the the rest of this blog ramble to briefly introduce myself and my interests.
So, Hello. I am Tara Zepel and I am a 5th year PhD candidate in Art History & New Media at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I always feel a bit deceptive saying this because what I do is really more of a design-orientated art now or future. You see, I do data visualization. But instead of solely thinking about it from a functional or tool-based perspective, I think about it in terms of its social, cultural and aesthetic potential. Over the last five or so years, a handful of scholars and researchers have called for the need to consider these aspects of data visualization, but few have taken this insistence beyond a project-based example or article-length exploration.
My dissertation project, tentatively titled Deep Visualization, aims to do just this -- dig deeply into the layered functions of data representation. Specifically, it offer an in-depth analysis of current visualization projects to show how they can function not only as tools of insight, but also as interfaces that design our everyday interactions with data.
Apart from my dissertation life, I am passionate about collaborative learning and teaching writing to undergraduates. I think am drawn to the technology and the sciences, partially because I have a very open definition of artistic media, but also because I find I am always more invigorated and productive in my scholarship when I exchange ideas with other people. As for the teaching writing, I work for the Culture Art and Technology program at UCSD and try to bring a bit of this collaborative energy to the classroom. Writing is, after all, about exchanging ideas and communication.
I believe I may have exceeded my "slightly longer" pitch length, so I will say goodnight with this. I am very much looking forward to getting to know more of you and continuing to build our community.
* I'm referencing Ian Bogost's "Cocktail Party Test" blogpost here. I am sure many of you have read it, but if you haven't, it's worth a look.