Lecture 3


Visualisation: War & Death

In the middle of 1812 Napoleon’s army of 400,000+ the army had to strategise their journey due to the grand scale and constant demands. Starvation and disease took their tolls as they were attacked by Russians and led to retreat. Only about 10,000 of Napoleon’s army survived the campaign.

To visualise the army’s journey, it’s possible to recognise and map their quest over time. Two charts/lines can map the army, as thickness of the line correlate to the location and size of the campaign during the current time. The mapping bodies information visualisation, translating the campaign in severity, reflecting the power of the image. It augments the viewer’s capacity to grasp and interrelate the complex data. It’s important to give the audience tools to analyse data and attempt to understand what is happening relative to its magnitude.

1812 by Prianishnikov http://www.tretyakovgallery.ru

During the Crimean War in 1858, Florence Nightingale recognised soldiers were dying needlessly due to malnutrition and poor nutrition. She strove to improve the living conditions of the troops by maintaining meticulous records and turning them into graphs.

L. Cmielewski Historical and Contemporary Visualisation Methods (2016)

By using Nightingale’s graphs it can be viewed effectively as the superimposed triangles demonstrate that troops were dying at 32x the rate of disease rather than battle wounds (red). The information would’ve been emphasised had it been presented as a bar chart. However a bar chart is not as effective in showcasing statistics over time.

L. Cmielewski Historical and Contemporary Visualisation Methods (2016)

Otto Neurath’s ISOTYPE – International System of Typographic Picture Education

Neurath used visual education to transform the masses with his implementation of visual type. It was mainly used to demonstrate comparisons of statistics over time in an educational way.

L. Cmielewski Historical and Contemporary Visualisation Methods (2016)


Throughout this lecture it was interesting to learn the different uses of graphs and data visualisation within historical context. The implementation of graphs in the 1800’s is revolutionary in displaying information that helps us understand the difficulties faced at that time. It’s also important to understand, for example Florence Nightingale reflected her collated data regarding illness post battles which could also be  displayed in bar graph emphasising her findings.

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