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Visualizar is a yearly 3-week workshop which invites people from all over the world to work on their own proposed projects that, in some way or form, aim to create a data visualization. Organized by José Luis de Vicente and held at the Medialab-Prado in Madrid, Spain, the workshop offers the active support by various invited international guests and local volunteers, including software developers and digital geeks that offer their free time to those project groups requiring some form of programming support.


During the first week, the workshop was 'taught' by Dietmar Offenhuber from the MIT Senseable City Lab (e.g. Trash Track) and artist and designer Amber Frid-Jimenez (e.g. Document Icons). In the second (and thus current) week, I am acting as 'teacher', which currently mostly means I am trying to point to the most promising trees in the dense forests that are the collection of ideas, concepts and tweaks that the attendees are still proposing. Having just arrived a few days ago, it unfortunately also meant I missed the inspiring talks by Usman Haque, Tom Raftery and Drew Hemment, of which the video documentation should be available soon.


The workshop attendees come from various countries in the world. Some have even been sponsored by Medialab Prado, which funded their flights and accommodation. Within the given theme of "Understanding Infrastructures", the range of proposed projects has proven to be quite large, of which you discover the full extent in full detail here. Some groups focused on mapping existing infrastructures and networks such as innovation parks or the local fruit and vegetable distribution, while others opted for more artistic directions, such as documenting the Madrid protests, creating a 'conversation' of the various identities of the Spanish stock market companies, or revealing Google's accountability in the Linux open source development. Most groups naturally encountered many challenges, ranging from the unavailability of datasets (e.g. Madrid musea do not seem especially open to provide information about their collections) to the harsh reality of programming original features, bells or whistles.


In the meantime, most attendees have entered the phase of screen design, with the programmers getting into high gear of producing small working prototypes, which is highly needed considering the workshop will end in less than one week. In short, it's truly amazing how all these people are so enthused to spend 3 weeks of their life to intensively discuss and develop a visual representation, meanwhile largely forgoing the perfect, warm weather (+30C), the terrific food and exquisite culture that surrounds them in the city of Madrid.