INSTUDIO commissioned OCAD U Graphic Design student Shaheer Tarar to design and develop a project showcasing his work in data visualization.
The World as Covered by Canadian News shows the most recent satellite images from a NASA database based on news from particular locations, as reported by four of Canada’s largest newspapers. Now in his final year of graphic design, Tarar explains that he was always very engaged in politics and his earlier work was a lot more pointed, even aggressive. His latest work wasn’t meant to be a pointed work that makes a statement. “The point now is to take a more neutral approach,” says Tarar. “Instead of conveying pointed images to my audience, I just present them with some sort of knowledge and to make meaning out of that is left up to them.”
“My work has taken a journalistic turn,” says Tarar, who is also Broadsheet Coordinator at OCAD U Student Press. “I started out doing traditional graphic design, but I became far more interested in the content than the design.” When he first started his work in data visualization, the Syrian civil war was heating up. “If there were images of any news on Damascus or Aleppo or Homs, you would see a satellite image of the city, and in some images you could see smoke plumes or destroyed parts of the city,” says Tarar.
Currently, while completing a thesis project based on Syria, what he hopes to achieve is to make a lot of geo-political issues less abstract. “When we discuss a lot of issues they feel far away, almost not real, almost incomprehensible. By pointing to real things in real time on a map, a lot of issues become ‘un-abstract.’”