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June 21, 2006

Visual Complexity


Upgrade! Lisbon meeting featuring Manuel Lima

Teatro S. Luiz welcomes next Thursday, June 22nd@20:00, The Upgrade! Lisbon monthly gathering featuring Manuel Lima, who will present his project Visual Complexity. The entrance is free and drinks will be served.

VisualComplexity.com intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project's main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web. I truly hope this space can inspire, motivate and enlighten any person doing research on this field.

Not all projects shown here are genuine complex networks, in the sense that they aren’t necessarily at the edge of chaos, or show an irregular and systematic degree of connectivity. However, the projects that apparently skip this class were chosen for two important reasons. They either provide advancement in terms of visual depiction techniques/methods or show conceptual uniqueness and originality in the choice of a subject. Nevertheless, all projects have one trait in common: the whole is always more than the sum of its parts.

Complexity is a challenge by itself. Complex Networks are everywhere. It is a structural and organizational principle that reaches almost every field we can think of, from genes to power systems, from food webs to market shares. Paraphrasing Albert Barabasi, one of the leading researchers in this area, “the mistery of life begins with the intricate web of interactions, integrating the millions of molecules within each organism”. Humans, since their birth, experience the effect of networks every day, from large complex systems like transportation routes and communication networks, to less conscious interactions, common in social networks.

Scale-Free networks, one of the most common topology in either natural or human systems, is curiously enough, a very recent breakthrough. Since its discovery, in 1999, dozens of researchers worldwide have been disentangling the networks around us at an amazing rate. This awareness is helping us understand not only the world around us but also the most intricate web of interactions that shape the human body. The global effort of constructing a general theory of complexity is tremendous and may lead us, not only to a structural understanding of networks, but to major improvements in stability, robustness and security of most complex systems around the globe. Like Barabasi refers in Linked, “Once we stumble across the right vision of complexity, it will take little to bring it to fruition. When that will happen is one of the mysteries that keeps many of us going”.

Manuel Lima was born in the Azores, Portugal, in May 1978. In 2002 he completed a 6 year degree in Industrial Design at the Faculty of Architecture - UTL Lisbon and finished a 7 month internship at the design firm Kontrapunkt, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Currently living in New York, Manuel is a recent MFA graduate from the Design+Technology program at Parsons School of Design. For this purpose he received scholarships from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Luso-American Foundation and a Dean's scholarship from Parsons School of Design.

During the course of the MFA program Manuel was part of a Collaboration Studio with Siemens Corporate Research Center, worked for the American Museum of Moving Image and Parsons Institute for Information Mapping in research projects for the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency. Manuel is currently working as an interaction designer at R/GA Interactive and teaches Information Design at Parsons Design+Management department.

Posted by luis at June 21, 2006 10:11 AM