CS 591/491

Information Visualization and Computational Design

Mondays 4:00–6:30 — DSH-128

Prof. Patrick Gage Kelley

pgk @ cs.unm.edu

Information Visualization
The purpose of information visualization is to amplify cognitive performance, not just to create interesting pictures. Information visualizations should do for the mind what automobiles do for the feet. – Stuart Card

Computational Design
Computational design is the discipline of applying computational approaches to design problems, whether related to presentation, analysis or aesthetic expressions. - generator.x


This is an advanced studio course in computing arts. While the course will focus on the process of data visualization and computationally generated forms, topics surveyed in the course will be tailored to student interests, and may include: information visualization, experimental interface design, game design, locative and mobile media, computational form-generation, augmented reality, simulation, dynamic typography, device art, physical computing, and other topics.

The course is designed around a small number of projects and a final, public capstone. Students will work across disciplines, solving problems of data display, design, and, importantly, exploring computation as a method for curiosity and art.

Enrolling students are expected to have some demonstrable programming skills, without exception. Although the course will provide technical overviews of major arts-programming toolkits (including Processing, openFrameworks, and D3), assignments may be executed in the student’s preferred programming environment.

Non computer scientists, be prepared to do some actual programming.
Computer scientists, be prepared to do some creative work.

Graduate students should register for section CS 591 and undergraduate students for CS 491.


tableau (free for students)



A broad outline of the course:

  1. Monday January 20
    No class. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  2. Monday January 27
    Class introductions.
    Discussion: Broad overview, class concept.
    Introduce: Gauntlet.
  3. Monday February 3
    Gauntlet due at noon.
    Gauntlet critique!
    Discussion: process.
    Introduce: Mini-project 1.
  4. Monday February 10
    No class. PGK in Korea.
  5. Monday February 17
    Mini-project 1 due at noon.
    Mini-project 1 critique!
    READING: mini-tufte
    Thursday work session at Satellite: 2:30-5pm
  6. Monday February 24
    Mini-project 1 revisions due at noon.
    READING: Levels of Measurement
    READING: The Structure of the Information Visualization Design Space
    Thursday work session at Satellite: 2:30-5pm
  7. Monday March 3
    Introduce: Mini-project 2.
    Thursday work session at Satellite: 2:30-5pm
  8. Monday March 10
    No class.
  9. Monday March 17
    No class. Spring break.
  10. Monday March 24
    Mini-project 2 due at noon.
    Mini-project 2 critique!
    Introduce: Project.
  11. Monday March 31
    Project ideas due.
  12. Monday April 7
    Project proposals due.
    • Title
    • One paragraph description - what is the concept, what will you do?
    • List of resources, other pieces, inspirations, data sets
    • List of tech you need, expected way to display your piece
  13. Monday April 14
  14. Monday April 21
    Project check-in.
  15. Monday April 28
    Project work day. No class (PGK away) – work together!
  16. Monday May 5
    Projects due

Possible Data Visualization Contests

Past Challenges

Design/Typography Resources

stivcd-b-th  stivcd-g-th
stivcd-r-th  stivcd-y-th