Monday, July 1, 2019

Aesthetics and ethics: Jaime Serra's visualization philosophy

Jaime Serra is the best visual information/data artist I've ever met, and the only reason he isn't widely known outside the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds, I think, is that he doesn't speak English and he hasn't translated much of his work.

This post is just an excuse to (a) make you aware of his career, which spans over three decades, and (b) to promote an online course Jaime has recently launched where he explains his thinking and methodology.

The course is interesting and affordable ($20). It's in Spanish, but videos are subtitled in English and Portuguese, and judicious use of a translation program such as Google Translate will help with the website itself.

In the lectures Jaime discusses dozens of visualizations and talks about his influences—spoiler: most aren't designers or visual artists, but musicians, poets, and psychologists—and his philosophy. For instance, he argues that in the kind of visualization he favors, aesthetics and ethics are inseparable in the sense of making form and appearance anticipate, reinforce, and match the themes and content of any graphic. One of Jaime's obsessions is to avoid templates, boredom, and repetitiveness; each visualization should be unique, unapologetically subjective, and have its own personality. Giorgia Lupi has said something similar.

Play the intro video of the course to see the breadth and depth of Jaime's work: