edited by Nicholas Felton – Photoviz: Visualizing Information through Photography


Gestalten, ISBN-13: 978-3899556452, English, 240 pages, 2016, Germany

“Photoviz” is a neologism describing classic photographs whose content can also be interpreted as data visualisation (“dataviz”). This homonymous book is edited by Nicholas Felton and is a visually amazing collection, giving a new sense to photography in the post-digital age. In his introductory text, Felton quantifies the structural changes occurring in both cameras and pictures, ending with the incomparable scale of current image production and envisioning the future data “flood” which is already part of everyday life. But that’s only part of the story. Combining composition, enhanced exposure, software post-processing, Exif data and infographics culture, the photographs become, in his words, “a reservoir of information.” This collection is then composed of remarkable examples of photoviz, using different techniques to essentially expand the time that can be contained in a single image, pushing the essential nature of photography to a logical extreme. Felton was one of the lead designers of Facebook’s timeline, so he is quite familiar with the collapsing of space and time under specific constrains. Although the sequence is evidently structured with a lot of care, Felton doesn’t pretend to established genres in this curated selection, but rather treats each item as a specific case. One of the most interesting and destabilizing aspects is that the great majority of images in this book still maintain a strong legacy with our visual culture, standing simultaneously in between an advanced “product” and a classic picture.