The Icon 20/20 Designers: Ben Fry/Casey Reas 01.05.09

disarticulate 14x40in 360dpi-2

Disarticulate, Ben Fry's code interpretation of a digital drawing by Casey Reas, 2005

Visualisation is digital imagery that makes sense of complex data by presenting it in graphic form. Design critic Alice Rawsthorn, who nominated Ben Fry and Casey Reas, calls it "the most important new visual language of our time". Fry and Reas are not quite the fathers of the "visualisation" phenomenon, but they took a language that belonged to computer science and made it accessible to the design community at large.

In 2007, these two former students of John Maeda at the MIT Media Lab released Processing, an open source software system that is particularly well-suited to information design, but can be used for digital fabrication or to create animation or graphic artworks. Essentially, the vaguely computer-savvy can use it to write whatever programs they might need. "It's allowing a whole new audience to approach using computers in a radical way - now they can customise their own software," says Reas. For the bigger picture, see the last entry in this list, entitled You (page 092).

Fry bw

reas bw

 

Image

Adam Laycock

 

Words

Justin McGuirk, Johanna Agerman, William Wiles, Anna Bates, Beatrice Galilee, Oliver Wainwright, Alex Pasternack, Matthew Barac, Sean Dodson

 

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