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What Counts, Museum of the City of New York

Contributed by Production Type on Mar 11th, 2021. Artwork published in .
    What Counts, Museum of the City of New York 1
    Source: https://www.pentagram.com Pentagram. License: All Rights Reserved.

    What Counts is an interactive installation conceived by Giorgia Lupi and team at Pentagram for the exhibition Who We Are: Visualizing NYC by the Numbers at the Museum of the City of New York.

    It questions the historical legacy of census taking and data representation. Rather than offering usual dull data visualizations composed of bars and circles, Pentagram designed a whole apparatus centered more on what makes an individual identity, calling into question the collective identity brought by administration. This formalizes in a series of questions not based on facts but on world views, where each answer adds up to finally create a unique data portrait, emphasizing the emotional aspect of what makes one’s own identity. All these portraits are then used for the dynamic data visualization screened on the wall, where the visitors can read the proportions of different answers.

    For the graphic design of the installation, Pentagram used two different kinds of type. There’s a custom typeface based on Lupi’s handwriting, made at Pentagram in 2019 and simply named Giorgia Lupi, keeping a handwritten aspect that contrasts with the usual clinical standards of census taking; the data portraits are also designed with a hand-drawn style, positioning them closer to craft than to the generated images they actually are. On the other hand, texts are set in Proto Grotesk from Production Type. Its straightened curves, inspired from an early German utilitarian sans, make it at the same time steady and unpolished: this singularity brought into a rather standard style echoes the will of Pentagram to bring emotion to data. The team of designers called this approach “data humanism”: an urge to consider people not only as statistics but also as individuals with desires and dreams.

    What Counts, Museum of the City of New York 2
    Source: https://www.pentagram.com Pentagram. License: All Rights Reserved.
    What Counts, Museum of the City of New York 3
    Source: https://www.pentagram.com Pentagram. License: All Rights Reserved.
    What Counts, Museum of the City of New York 4
    Source: https://www.pentagram.com Pentagram. License: All Rights Reserved.
    What Counts, Museum of the City of New York 5
    Source: https://www.pentagram.com Pentagram. License: All Rights Reserved.
    What Counts, Museum of the City of New York 6
    Source: https://www.pentagram.com Pentagram. License: All Rights Reserved.

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