Diagrams of Power Opening Reception

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm

Join us for a free party to celebrate the opening of the newest exhibition at Onsite Gallery, Diagrams of Power!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
6 to 9 p.m.

Onsite Gallery, OCAD University
199 Richmond St. W.

Diagrams of Power showcases art and design works using data, diagrams, maps and visualizations as ways of challenging dominant narratives and supporting the resilience of marginalized communities.

Group exhibition featuring work by Joshua Akers, The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Josh Begley, Joseph Beuys, Vincent Brown, Bureau d'études, Department of Unusual Certainties, W. E. B. Du Bois, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, Forensic Architecture, Iconoclasistas, Julie Mehretu, Lize Mogel, Ogimaa Mikana, Margaret Pearce, Laura Poitras, Philippe Rekacewicz and Visualizing Impact

Curated by Patricio Dávila

Exhibition runs July 11 to September 29, 2018.


About Onsite Gallery – www.ocadu.ca/onsite
Onsite Gallery is the flagship professional gallery of OCAD U and an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media. Visit our website for upcoming public events.


Diagrams of Power is produced with the support of OCAD University's Office of the Faculty of Design, Public Visualization Lab and Nexus Investments.

Diagram of Power's public workshops and research engagement events is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Onsite Gallery gratefully acknowledges that the new gallery construction project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund at Canadian Heritage, the City of Toronto through a Section 37 agreement and Aspen Ridge Homes; with gallery furniture by Nienkämper. Onsite Gallery logo by Dean Martin Design.


Image: W. E. B. Du Bois, [The Georgia Negro] City and rural population, 1890. Image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Venue & Address: 
Onsite Gallery (199 Richmond St. W., Ground Floor)
416-977-6000 x456
W. E. B. Du Bois, [The Georgia Negro] City and rural population, 1890. Image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photogra

Canada Council Visualization: Training for visual analysis of complicated data

The Canada Council for the Arts engaged researchers from OCAD’s Visual Analytics Lab to meet a need for the visual analysis of complicated data from various industries, including the Canada Council’s Open Data set, the CADAC data set, and Parliamentary appropriation tables.

Researchers met with Canada Council staff to identify key challenges and gain an understanding of the user group that the visual analytics approach would first serve. They defined co-dependencies of this user group and, working closely with Canada Council employees, developed an appropriate approach to visualizing the various data sets.

A key component of this collaboration was the training of Canada Council employees in the methodologies and applications of data visualization.

This project culminated in the creation of a web-based interface and methods to guide users in exploring and gaining valuable information from the visual representations of grant allocation data.

See the data visualization tool in action on the Canada Council's website.


Canada Council for the Arts dashboard
Canada Council for the Arts dashboard
Canada Council for the Arts Logo
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 12:15pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond
Dr. Ana Jofre
Afrooz Samaei
Marcus A. Gordon

ViewerCentric: Visualization engineering towards a tool for media discoverability

This ongoing project sees researchers from OCAD’s Visual Analytics Lab working closely with Magnify Digital. It applies data analytics strategies and visualization best practices to the development of ViewerCentric, a visualization dashboard that allows users in the film, television, and media distribution sectors to understand complex data sets.

The data sets include streaming social media data and static data related to consumer habits. Visualization of this complex data helps content creators to better understand their audiences, increasing their discoverability.

A key component of this research is finding ways of combining multiple data sets and presenting the results in an actionable way. The ViewerCentric interface provides its users with the means to develop effective and measurable, online marketing strategies; find and assess audiences, identify opportune channels for reaching these, and evaluate messaging, funding and advertising opportunities and reports that can be submitted to funders, broadcasters, sponsors, and stakeholders.

Researchers will extend the system to other cultural content that has or could have a digital component or tag such as visual art, live entertainment, music and publishing - supporting its discoverability and user analytics. Currently editors and independent producers rely on hunches and creative vision without understanding the varied demographic differences of their audiences into account, while advertising agencies and brands primarily consider data. The objective is to help cultural industries and not-for-profits monetize content and balance personalization, market drivers and editorial direction.



We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Cette recherche a été financée par le Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG).

Friday, May 18, 2018 - 1:30pm
Lab Member: 
Sana Shepko
Jad Rabbaa
Afrooz Samaei
Marcus A. Gordon
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Dr. Sara Diamond

Diagrams of Power

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - 7:00pm to Sunday, September 30, 2018 - 7:00am

Diagrams of Power
July 11 to September 29, 2018

Group exhibition featuring work by Joshua Akers, The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Josh Begley, Joseph Beuys, Vincent Brown, Bureau d'études, Department of Unusual Certainties, W. E. B. Du Bois, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, Forensic Architecture, Iconoclasistas, Julie Mehretu, Lize Mogel, Ogimaa Mikana, Margaret Pearce, Laura Poitras, Philippe Rekacewicz and Visualizing Impact

Curated by Patricio Dávila

Diagrams of Power showcases art and design works using data, diagrams, maps and visualizations as ways of challenging dominant narratives and supporting the resilience of marginalized communities. The exhibition brochure is available online here.

Diagrams of Power


Joshua Akers
Joshua Akers is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He is the founder and director of the Urban Praxis Workshop and member of the Property Praxis Research Collective. Akers’ research and writing examines the intersection of markets and policy and their material impacts on everyday life. This work has appeared in Environment and Planning A, Geoforum, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Geography, Derive and Guernica.

The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
Erin McElroy is the cofounder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and the activist-based peer-reviewed Radical Housing Journal. She is a doctoral candidate in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, focusing on techno imaginaries and postsocialist Romania and Silicon Valley. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is a data visualization, data analysis, and digital storytelling collective documenting dispossession and resistance upon gentrifying US landscapes.

Josh Begley
Josh Begley is a data artist and app developer based in Brooklyn, New York. Begley is the director of two short films, Best of Luck with the Wall (2016) and Concussion Protocol (2018). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York Magazine, the Whitney, the Met Breuer, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys (12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) was a German Fluxus, happening, and performance artist as well as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist, and pedagogue. His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his "extended definition of art" and the idea of social sculpture as a gesamtkunstwerk, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in shaping society and politics. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century.

Vincent Brown
Vincent Brown is the Charles Warren Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies and Director of the History Design Studio at Harvard University. He is a multi-media historian with a keen interest in the political implications of cultural practice. Brown is the author of The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (Harvard University Press, 2008) and producer of an audiovisual documentary about the anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits broadcast on the PBS series Independent Lens. He is currently writing a book about African diasporic warfare in the Americas.

Bureau d’études
Bureau d’études is an artist collective that lives and works in Saint Menoux, France. For 15 years, the group has developed research on the structures of power and capitalism. The group is currently working on a collective project on agriculture, commons and resymbolizing research: www.fermedelamhotte.fr.

Department of Unusual Certainties
The Department of Unusual Certainties' objective is to use thoughtful, research-driven design to inspire engagement and dialogue. They practice the tradition of pragmatism, strategically applying design in the physical world to affect the social good. In 2010, Department of Unusual Certainties started as a result of a shared need to ask questions about our everyday existence. This curiosity continues to grow and has manifested over the years through projects that traverse urban design, public art, education, cartography and social engagement.

W. E. B. Du Bois
Scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best-known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) in 1909. Du Bois died in Ghana in 1963.

Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman
Teddy Cruz is a professor of Public Culture and Urbanization in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, and Director of Urban Research in the UCSD Center on Global Justice. Fonna Forman is a professor of Political Theory and Founding Director of the Center on Global Justice at the University of California, San Diego.  

Cruz + Forman are principals in Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, a research-based political and architectural practice in San Diego. Blurring conventional boundaries between theory and practice, and transgressing the fields of architecture and urbanism, political theory and urban policy, visual arts and public culture, Cruz + Forman lead a variety of urban research agendas and civic/public interventions in the San Diego-Tijuana border region and beyond. They will represent the United States in the 2018 Venice Architectural Biennale.

Forensic Architecture
Forensic Architecture is a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, consisting of architects, artists, filmmakers, journalists, software developers, scientists, lawyers, and an extended network of collaborators from a wide variety of fields and disciplines. Founded in 2010 by Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture is committed to the development and dissemination of new evidentiary techniques. It undertakes advanced architectural and media investigations on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights and civil society groups, as well as political and environmental justice organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the UN, among others.

Formed in 2006, Iconoclasistas is Pablo Ares and Julia Risler. Their projects combine graphic art, creative workshops and community-based research. Their works are offered online through Creative Commons licenses allowing free distribution and encouraging the creation of derivative works. Through the use of graphic devices and the design of several tools, Iconoclasistas fosters critical reflection that supports resistance and transformation.

Julie Mehretu
In the age of globalization, Julie Mehretu has created a new form of history painting whose themes include identity, cultural history, geography, and personal narrative. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in East Lansing, Michigan, educated in Rhode Island and Senegal, and she resides in New York City and Berlin. Her life experience is reflected in her visual vocabulary, which is drawn from maps, urban-planning grids, and architectural forms. These are combined to make dynamic, delicate paintings, drawings, and prints that blur the line between abstraction and figuration. Mehretu’s art embodies the interconnected and complex character of the world.

Lize Mogel
Lize Mogel is an interdisciplinary artist and counter-cartographer. Her work intersects the fields of popular education, cultural production, public policy, and mapping. She creates maps and mappings that produce new understandings of social and political issues. She has mapped public parks in Los Angeles; future territorial disputes in the Arctic; and wastewater economies in New York City. She is co-editor of the book/map collection "An Atlas of Radical Cartography,” a project that significantly influenced the conversation and production around mapping and activism.

Ogimaa Mikana
Ogimaa Mikana is an artist collective founded by Susan Blight (Anishinaabe, Couchiching) and Hayden King (Anishinaabe, Gchi’mnissing) in January 2013. Through public art, site-specific intervention, and social practice, Ogimaa Mikana asserts Anishinaabe self-determination on the land and in the public sphere.

Margaret Pearce
Margaret Pearce is a cartographer and writer based in Rockland, Maine. Since 2006, she has dedicated herself to exploring and developing the expressive capacities of cartographic language to represent human experience and dialogues across cultures to decolonize narratives and empower silenced voices. Pearce has eighteen years of experience teaching cartographic design, map history and Indigenous geographies at the university level, most recently as Associate Professor of Geography at University of Kansas. She is enrolled Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and former president of the North American Cartographic Information Society.

Laura Poitras
Laura Poitras is a filmmaker, journalist and artist. CITIZENFOUR, the third installment of her post-9/11 Trilogy, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary, along with awards from the British Film Academy, Independent Spirit Awards, Director’s Guild of America and others. She recently presented a series of immersive installations and new work for her solo exhibition, ASTRO NOISE (2016), at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Her reporting on NSA mass surveillance based on Edward Snowden’s disclosures won the George Polk Award for national security journalism, and shared in the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. She is on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and is co-creator of the visual journalism project Field of Vision.

Philippe Rekacewicz
Philippe Rekacewicz is a French geographer, cartographer and information designer and associate researcher at the University of Helsinki. With Philippe Rivière, he developed visionscarto.net, a research website dedicated to “radical and experimental cartography and geography.” Rekacewicz follows issues such as demography, refugees and displaced persons, and migration and statelessness persons. He has worked on a number of projects bringing together cartography, art and politics, especially studying how communities and political or economic powers produce the cartographic vision of the territories on which they operate, and how they can manipulate those maps.

Visualizing Impact
Visualizing Impact is a laboratory for innovation at the intersection of data science, technology, and design. Visualizing Impact creates impactful tools highlighting critical social issues around the world.


Diagrams of Power is produced with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, OCAD University's Office of the Faculty of Design, Public Visualization Lab, Nexus Investments, Multi Touch Digital and Microsoft.

Diagram of Power's public workshops and research engagement events is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Onsite Gallery gratefully acknowledges that the new gallery construction project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund at Canadian Heritage, the City of Toronto through a Section 37 agreement and Aspen Ridge Homes; with gallery furniture by Nienkämper. Onsite Gallery logo by Dean Martin Design.


Image: Forensic Architecture, The Ayotzinapa Case: A Cartography of Violence (still), 2017. Video, 18 min. 24 sec.

Venue & Address: 
Onsite Gallery (199 Richmond St. W., Ground Floor)
416-977-6000 x456
 Image: Forensic Architecture, The Ayotzinapa Case: A Cartography of Violence (still), 2017. Video, 18 min. 24 sec.
Diagrams of Power Supporters

Dr. Sara Diamond to speak at TUX

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

In her lecture, Data Visualization – Fundamental 21st Century Knowledge, Dr. Diamond will discuss the significance of visualization design and data analytics in the age of Big Data.

A video of the talk will be available on the TUX YouTube channel

The Toronto User Experience group is an organization dedicated to bringing together and building of a community of HCI researchers in and around Toronto. It presently has members from as far east as Queen’s University in Kingston, and as far west as Waterloo.

Tux comes together biweekly, usually at the MaRS Discovery District or at the University of Toronto for talks. Each talk is preceded by a reception made possible by the group’s generous sponsors. Talks at Tux are in one of two categories: Tux member presentations, and Sanders Series Invited Lectures.


Venue & Address: 
MaRS Discovery District 101 College St, Toronto

Visualizing Emergence

A project currently in development, Visualizing Emergence seeks to explore and visualize phenomena of emergence in data representing technologically mediated human communication and exchange within a techno-social complex adaptive system (CAS).

Using textual analysis and other data as substrate, research will focus on data from CIV-DDD partners, IBM Cognos and public sources, possibly including Twitter and other accessible APIs. In time we expect to aggregate data from additional sources. Leveraging senior researcher and student contributions from OCAD and York Universities, the project will explore and exploit a synthesis of scientific, artistic and aesthetic techniques, with software from partners including IBM / Cognos.

Project challenges include:

  • Finding the right data set; evaluating data quality
  • Representing, managing multi-variant data
  • Models, metaphors; legibility, navigation

Visualizing Emergence will examine model-based scientific visualization of complex data sets as well as emergent systems, data mining techniques and visualization. We will test, review and select the most appropriate software approach for developing the data models and generating dynamic results. The work will also deliver findings tied to the following CIV-DDD project aims: appropriateness of 2D or 3D visualizations, visualization aesthetics, and use of specific vs. generic tools.


For more information, please visit http://slab.ocadu.ca/project/visualizing-emergence .

Visualizing Emergence is supported by NCE-GRAND. This project is funded in part by the Centre for Information Visualization and Data Driven Design established by the Ontario Research Fund (ORF).


Photograph of sLab members Greg Van Alstyne and Trevor Haldenby working at a table
NCE logo
Monday, October 23, 2017 - 11:45am
Lab Member: 
Greg Van alstyne

Synthesizing and Visualizing Climate Vulnerability Assessments Data for the Region of Peel

The Peel Climate Alliance needed to synthesize multiple data-rich climate change vulnerability assessments and present the result to the region’s council for resources allocation and prioritization. The members of the Alliance had several competing priorities and too many messages, resulting in inefficient communication with decision makers.

By taking Alliance members through the Megamap process we were able to agree on prioritization criteria, identify the target decision makers and their profiles, distil messaging, and visualize relevant data in a large Megamap to be presented to various decision makers.


  • Establish criteria for prioritization among the diverse members of the Alliance
  • Streamline the communications process between expert departments and decision makers
  • Visualize pertinent data for decision support



To achieve project objectives we began by taking participants through a foresight workshop in order to communicate possible features and use such foresight as basis for negotiating common prioritization criteria.

Working with a joint team of the Alliance and rLab, we identified the critical target audiences and their characteristics. We then put the key messages proposed by each member of the Alliance through an evaluation process and facilitated a reduction in the number of messages. This process resulted in a few strategically important messages which satisfied all members.

We then visualized pertinent data in a large synthesizing Megamap, including the profiles of the target audiences, the agreed-upon key messages, and the rich data collected by the member organizations.


This Project was implemented as usual with a joint team including members from rLab and all Alliance members.

Image of the Peel Region mega map created by the rLab and Alliance members
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 10:45am
Lab Member: 
Nabil Harfoush

Patricio Davila

Patricio Dávila is a designer, artist and educator. He is currently Associate Professor in Design at OCAD University, Director of Public Visualization Lab and member of the OCADU Mobile Media Lab and Visual Analytics Lab. His research focusses on developing a theoretical framework for examining data visualization as assemblages of subjectivation and power.

SharcNet & OCAD's VizDay 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - 1:30pm to 8:00pm

Data visualisation allows invisible data to be made visible through the creation of meaningful images. At VizDay 2008, experts in data, information and scientific visualization will share examples of and insights into their work in order to introduce the benefits of visualization to academia and industry.

Speakers will provide case studies in the physical sciences, biological and science and the social sciences. The contributions of art, design and cognitive science to visualisation will be discussed.

VizDay provides an opportunity for participants to discuss the tools, techniques and technologies of data, information and scientific visualization.

VizDay 2008 is produced through a collaboration between the Ontario College of Art & Design and the SharcNET Collaboration and Visualization Committee. Supporters include ORION/ORANO; CANARIE, IBM.

For a complete list of speakers and to register, visit the website below.

Venue & Address: 
Room 284, Level 2 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario
Free (please register)


Three related factors appear to be relevant in allowing an understanding of online behaviors: attention (the time that individuals and groups expend); influence (the relationships between ideas, products and behaviors) and affect (the emotions and sentiments that are expressed in relation to ideas and products). The extraction of accurate data, then the analysis of these factors in online behavior, and the charting and representation of relationships between these factors poses a significant challenge. For one thing, these factors need to be related to specific content. Data analytics and visualization tools are needed to represent each factor and to chart these relationships. There is very little research to date that works across these fields. This large-scale project seeks to shed light on each element of online social media practice and to then draw relationships between these elements.

Research Description:

People perform topic-based content exploration on large-scale social media systems. Such sites continue to expand rapidly. For example, Twitter continues to grow around the globe at a record pace. Just a year ago, they delivered 65 million Tweets a day. Today, they generate over 200 million Tweets per day. One year ago, there were approximately 150,000 registered Twitter apps. Now, there are more than one million. Facebook has more than 800 million active users of which more than 50% log on to Facebook in any given day where the average user has 130 friends. Seventy-seven percent of active Internet users read blogs. At the same time specialized media companies, brand development agencies and brands have developed social media applications that allow their users to communicate and at the same time, allow them to track the resulting data.

Editorial and business leaders see value in understanding the emotional tone, influences, attention span and diversity of their various sections and offerings, contributors and readers. Attention and influence, for example, currently directly impact advertising dollar interest in an article. In going digital, media publications have added commentary in the form of opinion blogs by its core of writers as well as ample opportunity for readers to vote and comment. Currently a majority of online media allow readers to express their thoughts and opinions on content through social media commentary. This information can impact advertising sales, decisions on style and relatedness of writers and design and even the kind of influence that different sections, authors or columns may have. Editorial leadership is eager to better manage the means for reader commentary. At the same time it is valuable to understand any underlying patterns that suggest reasons for specific emotional tone. Discovering sentiments, patterns and relationships embedded in articles as well as comments is important for tracking the newspaper’s role in shaping public opinion on contemporary issues and the ways that readers interact with these opinions. It can help media analysts better understand the impact of sentiments on news events. What is more, new tools, on multiple platforms can be developed for media users that allow them to shape their emotional content and respond to others, and chart the influence of their ideas, media patterns and behaviors.

For almost a decade contemporary brands have relied on a growing direct dialogue with their consumer base through social media, and gamification (direct play as a means of polling). These relationships engender loyalty and provide a rich source of data to understand and predict consumer behaviors. Consumer opinion that is expressed in response to new offerings, system breakdowns, or customer service is of critical importance in a world where viral trends erupt quickly with significant impact. Events and opinion outside of an immediate enterprise can have a direct impact in a social media era. Marketing and advertising companies analyze consumer attitudes and relationships to brands for trend analysis and product development. The technology of “predictive analytics” is being fine-tuned by digital media and ICT companies with new offerings such as inferSYTEMS. While the technology of monitoring is becoming more sophisticated, the underlying assumptions of analysis have not changed dramatically for many years, continuing to rely on twentieth century psychology structures. Brands and media analysis companies seek to bring together social media data with data that tracks consumer behaviors – in specific their attention to media, to products and services and their consumption patterns.

In some areas, e.g., healthcare, free-form texts are the most common form of valuable data. These data range from doctor’s notes, descriptions of patient histories, to healthcare-related messages posted by patients on social media such as blogs, bulletin boards, and discussion forums. Such narrative text data contain the most valuable information for physicians to use in their practice and for public and government agencies to make their healthcare-related decisions. Recently, the New York Times reported on a study by MIT researchers, which showed that companies included in their study that adopted data-driven decision-making achieved 5-6% higher productivity than those that did not.

Since data are continuously generated every day in large volumes, the sheer amount of data is too overwhelming for humans to read and analyze manually. Automatic text analysis tools are in great need to discover the hidden information trapped inside the free-form texts. For example, a tool that identifies and analyzes the healthcare-related posts in social media can detect public opinions, activities and preferences in healthcare-related issues.

Understanding consumer opinion of reliability and service quality across an industry like banking can have an impact on a specific company’s quality of service as well as enabling an entire industry to improve. Natural language analysis, data mining and information retrieval are key techniques that can be used to build such text analysis tools.

It is difficult to discern meaning by extracting information piece by piece. We hypothesize that taking a data-driven design approach to visualizing content would make the aggregate meanings more apparent. The advantage of working with this partially processed data is that issues of confidentiality do not arise since any confidential or client information has been abstracted from the media. A second advantage is that research can also focus on visualization and design issues rather than duplicate commercially available linguistic parsing capabilities.

Colourful lines from design piece
Colourful lines from design piece
Colourful lines from design piece
Monday, September 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond