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Data for Change - idea development

Because I already was decided on what I want to do for my final outcome, I started researching the issue further. I had some basic knowledge from my previous project 'Data as Sound' and I knew where to find valuable data. At this point, I was determined to choose my final pollutants and my final data.

My goal was to create a series of posters (potentially 364, one for each day of the year) so I had to find pollutants that had consistent data, because some of them had empty gaps for days or even weeks.

Fortunately, LondonAir enables users to download the data for as many pollutant as they need and for the selected period of time. I used this option for my all four pollutants: NO, NO2, O3 and PM10 for the time period between January and May 2018 and 2019. I ended up having thousands lines of data in Excel but it was the easiest way to have everything in one file anyway.

Having everything ready, I started designing the first draft of my final poster design. After experimenting for a while with different designs in Adobe Illustrator, I had established the way how three out of four pollutants will look like. I was struggling with visualising one of them and I was hesitating if I should use blurriness or maybe some kind of a threshold.

I quickly realised that representing one pollutant by the opacity is not something I was happy about. Because the values were very similar, I would end up having the same opacity on most of them. Opacity was not only not the best way to present data, but I also was hesitant about the way I 'coloured' the poster. Doing posters about the Elephant&Castle area, I started to think: what shape can I add to the poster so it would make it more meaningful? It became very obvious for me, that because my posters are created for a specific area, I should link to the area itself. For my final presentation, I was creating posters about E&C so I picked the Southwark Borough shape. For example, if I would have to create a series of posters for Oxford Circus, I would pick a shape of City of Westminster.

At this point, I also added some kind of distortion (warp option in Adobe Illustrator) which I decided to leave for the NO2. I made the poster more dynamic and a little bit abstract, which was my goal before.

Trying to develop the design and solve the opacity problem, I remembered the lecture with Tiziana Alocci during which she talked about different gradients. Because I was using sequential gradient for my first draft, I changed it to sequential hoping the effect will be more diverse.

Even though with one multi-hue gradient the posters look more interesting, it was still hard to read the data. I ended up creating five different readers with various gradients so users will have a chance to read the data quite precisely. Later, I changed the typography slightly, added a short description under the title and adjust the key readers.

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