The Ars Electronica Futurelab defines information design as the art and science of using the techniques and tactics of content configuration & display to make the complex accessible, the hidden perceptible and the undepictable visually eloquent. The upshot: synergies among contents and new approaches to them; perspectives and realities become variable and comparable; bringing forth otherwise unthinkable processes of exchange and ways of looking at interrelationships. The functional, aesthetic and content-driven demands that a project?s context places on this information design process are worked out in a way that is customized to the particular field of application?high-end 3D visualizations, real-time graphics, animated films, new interactive approaches to Web-based applications, visualizations for architectural and industrial uses, and interactive simulations.
Work in the field of information design is an essential component of the atelier-lab?s signature approach to a task, one that conceives the design of the human-computer interface as a matter of mediating among human beings, spaces, objects and content. Applying information design to this mediation process means that the way information is prepared is an integral part of the mediation scenario itself.
Virtual Schönbrunn, a 3D visualization of the imperial palace in Vienna, is a mobile representational medium that sets breathtaking new standards in the digital conservation of historical treasures that are a part of mankind?s cultural heritage. In comparison to a visit to the original interiors, this virtual counterpart displays considerably higher information density since visitors to the simulated environment are not restricted by the force of gravity to examining only the wall decorations closest to the ground, and there are no velvet ropes to prevent them from getting right up close to superb artistic details depicted through the use of high-resolution digital technology.
Wikimap applications illustrate a specific way of representing user-generated content. In the linkup of digital cartography with the possibilities of location-specific exchange of multimedia communiqués, material and virtual spaces merge and reciprocally enrich one another with content in such a way that novel community formats emerge; plus, by designing in supplementary analytical functions, they can serve as efficiency-enhancing tools for a broad spectrum of user groups.
Product visualizations for Swarovski, in turn, presented a very different set of challenges to the way information is depicted. These high-end 3D real-time works of animation were the outcome of an R&D project commissioned to come up with a naturalistic way of getting across the material and visual qualities of cut crystal objects, how they refract light and make it explode with color, and to create a means that would serve the company as a flexible framework for product presentations (custom-made articles, etc.).
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