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A visualization of conflict in the Iraq + Afghanistan wars from 2004-10 printed at 10x85 feet. Coming soon to Richmond, VA. Back now!
56 backers pledged $1,885 to help bring this project to life.

About

Wall of War: a massive data visualization art installation project video thumbnail
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$1,885

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Wall of War is a graphic installation by VCUarts student Dylan Halpern working to visualization the ~463,000 incidents cataloged in the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs.  

Wall of War is a massive scale data visualization with intense complexity and a visceral effect on the viewer. The project sources data from the Wikileaks-leaked War records from 2004-2010. It includes events as mundane as a project file being deposited and as severe as air strikes or IEDs. 

Sketch of what the final gallery might look like. CC credit to https://www.flickr.com/photos/brownpau/4125410227/
Sketch of what the final gallery might look like. CC credit to https://www.flickr.com/photos/brownpau/4125410227/

With your help, this project will explore the idea of war and the implications of large scale leaks, as well as critique the state of data visualization and information graphics today. A traditional reductionist approach might not adequately reflect the severity, scope, and importance of this data. Because of this, I have chosen a detailed and expansive representation. 

The final piece will be exhibited in a gallery or outdoor space in the arts district of Richmond, Virginia. Admission will be free, and the piece will go up for the First Friday art walk in December 2014. The piece will stay up for the month of December or as long as possible.

Original Poster
Original Poster

The project began in fall 2013 when I made a small scale poster for a data visualization project. This features around 1,200 entries, roughly one quarter of one percent (0.25%) of the total data. The visualization consists of icons I created to represent the events in the simplest way possible. Each cell is 1/2" x 1/2", and clarity is the goal for each individual icon. 

Companion identification key to the original poster
Companion identification key to the original poster

The data is colored in a red and blue color gradient, representing the months the each incident occurred (red is the middle of summer, blue is winter). Aside from this trend presentation, the piece does not aim to efficiently present the data--my intention is to reflect the what the feeling of data on war should be, and through that create what is a less condensed but more accurate depiction.

While this project is a more artistic presentation of the data, I deeply respect concerns of national security regarding this dataset. To that end, I am using the redacted data set, and location, date, and event summary information will not be presented together. Additionally, I hope that this project will serve as a reminder to the great sacrifices and losses that happened as a result of these conflicts, and the risks generated by releasing this data to the public. 

To scale mock-up of the overall print
To scale mock-up of the overall print

With the aid of this kickstarter campaign and your backing, this project will be presented to the public free of charge either in doors or outside. The exact space within Richmond is still being worked out, but I am looking at a couple university-owned spaces in the arts district, as well as coordinating with a local architect who may have vacant space. 

 My hope is that the installation may draw interest from museums and galleries around the US. The form of a vinyl print is very portable and can be easily relocated to new venues. Additionally, the project files will be licensed under Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license, meaning anyone is free to use the files for personal, education, or non-profit design purposes.

Budget

The budget for the piece has a few main line items:

  • 10x85' print................................................$1,200
  • Secondary Posters (Five 36"x48" prints)..$100
  • Reward prints & shipping............................$200
  • Space........................................................(In-kind)
  • TOTAL.........................................................$1,500

Stretch Goals

  • $2,000 The Internet! I'll have the resources to hire a web developer to help me build an interactive web version of the data for all to explore.
  • $3,500 De-Coder app! If I can double my goal, I will be able to work with a developer to build an app that can recognize the symbols and produce text-based information. 

Thank you for your time!

Risks and challenges

The challenges in this process include the assembly of the graphic itself, the installation location, and making the installation understandable and accessible to a new audience.

1) While my original poster was created manually in Adobe inDesign, the new set of data (1,200 entries for the original, 463,497 entries for the complete) is not viable to do by hand. I will be using Processing, a javascript based data visualization and interactive platform with the help of VCU graphic design professor Lauren Thorson. The icons will be made in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format, so that while the print will 10'x 85', the PDF will be 10 inches x 85 inches (or smaller).

2) The installation demands a large space to be shown. To address this, I am working on several possible solutions for a December First Friday unveiling: a) Local galleries around Richmond who may be able to accomodate my work b) Buildings owned by VCU with large vertical surfaces that could present the installation c) Local architect(s) and property managers who may have open spaces that could fit the visualization. Regardless of where it ends up, the presentation will be free and open to the public.

3) In order to make the piece comprehensible and approachable, I will create an identification key for individuals to de-code each cell and understand the background of the graphic. Additionally, if I am lucky enough to receive $3,500 from this campaign, I will hire a developer to create a "de-coder" app that might look at symbols and produce a text-based synopsis of the event. Lastly, I will create a website where viewers can explore the graphic, the background behind the concept, and where it can be viewed.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    A huge thank you for supporting this project. This project cannot happen without the generosity of individuals like yourself. Everyone who donates will be listed and thanked in the curation of the exhibit.

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    You will receive a postcard with a photograph from the event and huge thank you for supporting the project, as well as being listed at the exhibition.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    You will receive the complete digital archive of the data visualization and infographics in an interactive PDF. Additionally, you will receive a postcard and be acknowledged in the exhibition.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    You will receive an 18"x24" poster of your choice: from the data visualization itself or the metadata infographics. You will receive a copy of the identification key, the digital archive, a postcard, and you will be acknowledged as a backer during the exhibition.

    **Add $17 for international shipping**

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    You will receive both 18"x24" posters, the digital archive, and the ID sheet. You will receive a postcard from the event, and will be thanked at the exhibition for your generous support.

    **Add $17 for international shipping**

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Funding period

- (30 days)