Public Visualization Lab/Studio focusses on how visualization can operate as a critical design and media practice. A priority for the studio/lab is to understand the ways that the representation of data is political as well as analytical, aesthetic, and creative. A basic premise that guides our projects is that visualization is an assemblage that arranges people, things, and processes and as such demands a commitment to ethics, accountability, and meaningful participation. The PVL/S collective is comprised of members and collaborators who are designers, artists, curators, writers, creative technologists, organizers, and researchers. The collective creates projects to pursue inquiries into the political and conceptual aspects of interaction, space, and media. We attempt to investigate how specific technologies of vision, communication, and gesture support our experiences in participatory spaces. Members of the collective have exhibited nationally and internationally, and have worked in a variety of areas including public projection, media architecture, locative media, video installation, exhibition design, curation, interaction, communication design, and media scholarship. Our studio also collaborates as a university-based lab in Toronto.

Members Patricio Dávila, Dave Colangelo, Immony Men, Hector Centeno Garcia Collaborators (Past and Present) Jay Irizawa, Maggie Chan, Preethi Jagadeesh, David Schnitman, Robert Tu, Symon Oliver, Bohdan Anderson, David Czarnowski, Alexis Mavrogiannis, Tim Macleod, Tati Petkovic, Jeff McArthur, Luke Garwood, Monica Virtue, Renata Leitao, Jonathan Silveira, Aaron Tucker, Jorge de Oliveira, Lillian Leung, Philip Zigman, Priya Bandodkar, Lequanne Collins-Bacchus

PVL/S is located in Toronto, Canada

You can contact us at:

  • 2023 / Designing Facts: Assembling Survivors, Satellite Data, and Interfaces in the Case Against NATO in the Mediterranean Sea (Book Chapter in Radical Intimacies) / Patricio Davila (edited by Oliver Vodeb) / Intellect Books

    Link to book

    An analysis of the Liquid Traces project by Forensic Architecture members Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani as a visualization and an assemblage that gathers data and people to represent death of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Chapter in Radical Intimacies (edited by Oliver Vodeb)

  • 2022 / Critical Visualization: Rethinking the Representation of Data (Book) / Peter A. Hall, Patricio Dávila / Bloomsbury Publishing

    Link to book

    Information may be beautiful, but our decisions about the data we choose to represent and how we represent it are never neutral. This insightful history traces how data visualization accompanied modern technologies of war, colonialism and the management of social issues of poverty, health and crime. Discussion is based around examples of visualization, from the ancient Andean information technology of the quipu to contemporary projects that show the fate of our rubbish and take a participatory approach to visualizing cities. This analysis places visualization in its theoretical and cultural contexts, and provides a critical framework for understanding the history of information design with new directions for contemporary practice.

  • 2022 / Receipts: Critical Experiments in Mediated Testimony and Human-Computer Witnessing of Discrimination Against Equity-Seeking Communities in Public Space / PVLS / Interactive Film & Media Virtual Conference

    Link to video

    This presentation reports on two iterations of our ongoing Receipts project. The works serve as a means to experiment with and propose processes that use social practice and machine learning technologies to prepare testimonies and listeners to more clearly and impactfully speak, hear, and feel what it is like to respond to mimetic trauma and be part of an equity-deserving group in public space. The work is guided by the following question: How can the process of facilitating the preparation and presentation of anonymized testimonies of discriminatory aggression in public spaces with the witnesses and victims of said agressions create structures of accountability, solidarity, healing, and community?

  • 2020 / The Building As Screen: A History, Theory, and Practice of Massive Media / Dave Colangelo / Amsterdam University Press

    Link to book

    The Building as Screen: A History, Theory, and Practice of Massive Media describes, historicizes, theorizes, and creatively deploys massive media — a set of techno-social assemblages and practices that include large outdoor projections, programmable architectural façades, and urban screens — in order to better understand their critical and creative potential. Massive media is named as such not only because of the size and subsequent visibility of this phenomenon but also for its characteristic networks and interactive screen and cinema-like qualities. Examples include the programmable lighting of the Empire State Building and the interactive projections of Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles, as well as a number of works created by the author himself. This book argues that massive media enables and necessitates the development of new practices of expanded cinema, public data visualization, and installation art and curation that blend the logics of urban space, monumentality, and the public sphere with the aesthetics and affordances of digital information and the moving image.

  • 2019 / Diagrams of Power / Patricio Davila / Onomatopee

    Link to book

    Diagrams of Power collects contemporary artworks and projects that use data, diagrams, maps and visualizations as ways of challenging dominant narratives and supporting the resilience of marginalized communities. The artists and designers featured critique conventionalized and established truths that obscure important histories or perpetuate oppressive regimes; they also contribute to positive social change by engaging communities and providing alternative strategies for storytelling, communication and organizing. Historical and contemporary uses of data and visualization in colonization, surveillance and management are problematized through critical interventions that use performance, embodiment and counternarratives. The publication is the product of an exhibition organized by Onsite Gallery at OCAD University, Toronto, in 2018. Diagrams of Power features works by artists, designers, cartographers, historians and collectives including Julie Mehretu, Iconoclasistas, Burak Arikan, Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, Bureau d’Etudes, Ogimaa Mikana, Department of Unusual Certainties, Josh Begley, Lize Mogel, Philippe Rekacewicz, Margaret Pearce, Joshua Akers, Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Vincent Brown and others.

  • 2019 / We Live Here: Media Architecture a Critical Spatial Practice / Dave Colangelo / Space and Culture

    Link to article

    This article asks how media architecture in the form of urban screens, LED façades, and public projection might function as a critical spatial practice in the hybrid digital and physical spaces of smart cities thereby challenging prevailing practices and theories of monumentality. The activist work of The Illuminator’s guerilla projections of the 99% symbol on buildings in Manhattan, the treatment of highly visible and iconic structures as media channels and sites of public discourse such as an ongoing research-creation project with a community-led media façade in downtown Toronto, and the #WeLiveHere2017 project at the Waterloo Estate in Sydney which supports tenants in protesting gentrification by illuminating their windows, demonstrate how new forms and practices of monumentality through media architecture can better engage citizens and cities in addressing important societal issues such as housing, poverty, indigenous rights, and discrimination in increasingly privatized public spaces.

  • 2017 / Expressive Cartography and the Aesthetics of Public Visualization (Article for Leonardo Journal) / Patricio Davila, Dave Colangelo, Maggie Chan, Robert Tu / Leonardo

    Link to published article

    Aesthetic visualization projects that incorporate users, community stakeholders, multiple modalities and technologies necessarily emphasize the way that an artistic visualization can be both an artifact and a process — a conceptualization of aesthetic visualization that is useful for thinking about visualization in general. In this paper, the authors propose the concept of the visualization as boundary object, a move away from the indexical claims of visualization and instead towards an acknowledgement of the entangled nature of social, political, economic, cultural, technological and environmental actants. Through a description of the In The Air, Tonight public visualization project, the authors suggest that by making manifest the connections between these actants, a visualization project, as a form of expressive cartography, can contribute to the visibility of and engagement with important issues (e.g., homelessness) that affect society.

  • 2017 / Visualization as assemblage: Exploring critical visualization practice (Article in Information Design Journal) / Patricio Davila / Information Design Journal

    Link to article

    The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is an example of critical visualization practice that interrogates both its own conditions of production and how who is represented is also affected by the representations. In order to describe and analyze this form of practice the notion of assemblage as well as tools from actor-network theory are employed. These concepts allow the researcher or designer to consider how visualizations operate beyond its existence as a discrete representation but rather as a process that weaves a network of humans and non-humans together which is especially relevant to a critical engagement in information visualization practice.

  • 2015 / The Line (Chapter in Land|Slide Exhibition Catalogue) / Patricio Davila, Dave Colangelo / Public

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    A selection of photographs from our installation plus a brief introduction to the project is included in this publication documenting all the artist projects from the Land|Slide exhibition.

  • 2015 / Curating Massive Media (Article in Journal of Curatorial Studies) / Dave Colangelo / Journal of Curatorial Studies

    Link to published article

    The European Union’s media art initiative Connecting Cities and New York-based Streaming Museum are two recent examples of curatorial models that operate through large, networked digital displays. This growing exhibition category combines expressive media architecture and telecommunication elements to engage ‘trans-local’ sites and diverse publics in complex media spaces. By investigating the confluence of exhibition-making, public art and urban experience, this article explores the relationship between spectacle and criticality with respect to shifting notions of space, identity and ‘the common’.

  • 2015 / Disrupting the City: Using Urban Screens to Remediate Public Space (Paper presentation at International Symposium for Electronic Arts) / Dave Colangelo, Claude Fortin, Jean Dubois / International Symposium for Electronic Arts

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    For over a decade, human-computer interaction (HCI) research placed a great deal of emphasis on studying interaction, engagement, and appropriative practices in online technology-mediated social environments. Moving forward, however, we see computing systems increasingly designed to support digitally-augmented face-to-face interactions in public settings. As far back as the nineteen seventies, new media artists anticipated this interactive potential of digital public displays to foster new forms of situated interactions in urban space, quite distinct from mobile computing in that they altogether exclude online connections or exchanges. Drawing on examples of practice, this paper discusses and showcases some of the key creative strategies, which panelists deploy in order to remediate interactive screen technology into a platform that has the power to disrupt the ordinary course of our everyday experience within increasingly media saturated cities.

  • 2014 / CoPerformance: A rapid prototyping platform for developing interactive artist-audience performances with mobile devices (Abstract for Mobile HCI conference) / Symon Oliver, Bohdan Anderson, Patricio Davila / Mobile HCI 2014

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    This is an extended abstract, Mobile HCI 2014, Toronto, Canada, describing the technology developed to provide mobile-phone based interaction to accompany live performances.

  • 2014 / Expressive Cartography and the Aesthetics of Public Visualization (Paper presentation at IEEE Vis 2014) / Patricio Davila, Dave Colangelo, Maggie Chan, Rober Tu / IEEE Vis 2014

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    This paper, presented at IEEE Vis 2014, Paris, France, posits that visualization should be considered as expressive cartography and as an event rather than simply artifacts in order to acknowledge the various discursive and performative aspects of this kind of practice. It uses the In The Air Tonight installation project as an example to explain this concept.

  • 2013 / The Aesthetics of Public Visualization (Paper presentation at Data is Beautiful) / Patricio Davila / Data is Beautiful

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    This article is a expansion of the themes presented in the Data is Beautiful Conference (Budapest, Hungary). It discusses the notion of aesthetics as a consideration that goes beyond beauty incorporate visuality, visibility and public engagement.

  • 2013 / Criticality and Design: The Pursuit of Authenticity (Article for Menlo Park Journal) / Patricio Davila / Menlo Park

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    The problems with criticality in design practice are discussed through the lens of recent theories of art and sociology of technology.

  • 2012 / Light, Data, and Public Participation (Article in Leonardo Electronic Almanac) / Patricio Davila, Dave Colangelo / Leonardo Electronic Almanac

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    This article, for Leonardo Electronic Almanac 18 (2), is based on an interactive pubic visualization project with the CN Tower and Rogers Communication and a presentation done at the ISEA conference in Istanbul. It attempts to describe the theoretical, historical, technological conditions and the practices of designers and artists that contribute to the current context in which participation and visualization in public is taking place.

  • 2011 / E-Tower and Public Space: Transforming space through reactive architecture and personal mobile devices (Presentation at CHI 2011) / Dave Colangelo, Patricio Davila / CHI 2011

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    In this paper, presented at CHI 2011, Vancouver, Canada, we describe the theoretical background of E-Tower, a mobile phone based interactive installation with the CN Tower for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche 2010.