Christopher Pietsch Interface Design & Visualization

Christopher is a Berlin based interaction designer who crafts unique digital experiences. His passion for interfaces goes beyond the digital layer as he tries to connect the physical with the digital world.

He studied Computer Science at the HTW Berlin, Interaction Design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and holds a Bachelor’s degree for his thesis on Brain-Computer-Interfaces. As a freelance information and interaction designer he now explores novel types of visualization metaphors. Selected projects include Bumping Borders, a work of dislocative media together with Julian Oliver, NZZ Wandelhalle, a data journalism piece showing lobbying in Switzerland, and Liquidata, a multi-device visualization of personal paths in the city.

Projects Contributions

Publications Published Works

One view is not enough: High-level visualizations of a large cultural collection

— Information Design Journal. 23:1, 2017

As cultural institutions are digitizing their artifacts and interlinking their collections, new opportunities emerge to engage with cultural heritage. However, it is the often comprehensive and complex nature of collections that can make it difficult to grasp their distribution and extent across a variety of dimensions. After a brief introduction to the research area of collection visualizations, this paper presents a design study visualizing an aggregated collection from diverse cultural institutions in Germany. We detail our iterative design process leading to prototypical implementations of four stylistically and functionally coordinated visualizations, each one focusing on different facets of the collection.


Past Visions and Reconciling Views: Visualizing Time, Texture and Themes in Cultural Collections

— DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly. 11:2, 2017

We present a case study on visualizing a collection of historic drawings along its metadata structure while also allowing for close examination of the artifacts’ texture. With regards to the specific character of cultural heritage at the intersection of research, education, and public interest, the presented visualization environment aims at meeting the requirements of both researchers as well as a broader public. We present the results from a collaborative interdisciplinary research project that involved a cultural heritage foundation, art historians, designers, and computer scientists. The case study examines the potential of visualization when applied to, and developed for, cultural heritage collections. It specifically explores how techniques aimed at visualizing the quantitative structure of a collection can be coupled with a more qualitative mode that allows for detailed examination of the artifacts and their contexts by displaying high-resolution views of digitized cultural objects with detailed art historical research findings. Making use of latest web technologies, the resulting visualization environment allows for dynamic filtering and zooming of a collection of visual resources that are arranged along a contextualized timeline. We share insights from our collaborative design process and the feedback and usage data gathered during the deployment of the resulting prototype as a web application. We end with a discussion of transferability of carefully crafted and collaboratively negotiated visualizations of cultural heritage and raise questions concerning the applicability of our approach to related strands of humanities research.


Von sammlungsspezifischen Visualisierungen zu nachnutzbaren Werkzeugen

— in: Konferenzband zur DHd 2017 Bern - Digitale Nachhaltigkeit, 2017

Die Entwicklung digitaler Werkzeuge lässt sich als wichtiger Teilbereich in den Digital Humanities identifizieren (Davis und Kräutli 2015; Schnapp et al. 2009). Entsprechende Forschung und Projektarbeit steht dabei komplexen Herausforderungen gegenüber. Nicht nur die Frage nach verfügbaren Daten, methodologischer Fundierung und technologischer Umsetzbarkeit, sondern auch die Frage nach deren langfristigen Verfügbarmachung sind wiederkehrende Themen der letzten Jahre. Eine zentrale Rolle für die Sicherstellung von Qualität und Anwendbarkeit der digitalen Werkzeuge ist die Einbindung von Forscher_innen der jeweiligen geisteswissenschaftlichen Disziplinen im Entwicklungsprozess (Drucker 2013). Gleichzeitig lässt sich die zentrale Bedeutung von Interfacedesign, Nutzungsanleitungen und Benutzerfreundlichkeit als wichtige Faktoren für die Etablierung von digitalen Werkzeugen im Forschungsprozess feststellen (Gibbs und Owens 2012). Doch selbst wenn diese Herausforderungen bewältigt werden und ein digitales Werkzeug (erfolgreich) entwickelt wurde, stellt sich weiterhin die Frage, wie die langfristige Nachnutzung im Sinne einer digitalen Nachhaltigkeit sichergestellt werden kann. Am Beispiel des Entstehungsprozesses einer sammlungsspezifischen Visualisierung und deren Weiterentwicklung zu einem nachnutzbaren Werkzeug werden einige zentrale Aspekte der beeinflussenden Faktoren und Lösungsansätze vorgestellt. Unser Beitrag stellt sich somit der Frage, wie sichergestellt werden kann, dass digitale Tools auch über die Laufzeit von Förderprojekten hinaus (und unabhängig von spezifischen Use-cases) dauerhaft nutzbar und weiterentwickelbar sind.


Staged Analysis: From Evocative to Comparative Visualizations of Urban Mobility

— Proceedings of the IEEE VIS Arts Program, VISAP'16, 2016

In this paper we examine the concept of staged analysis through a case study on visualizing urban mobility exhibited in a public gallery space. Recently, many cities introduced bike-sharing in order to promote cycling among locals and visitors. We explore how citizens can be guided from evocative impressions of bicycling flows to comparative analysis of three bike-sharing systems. The main aim for visualizations in exhibition contexts is to encourage a shift from temporary interest to deeper insight into a complex phenomenon. To pursue this ambition we introduce cf. city flows, a comparative visualization environment of urban bike mobility designed to help citizens casually analyze three bike-sharing systems in the context of a public exhibition space. Multiple large screens show the space of flows in bike-sharing for three selected world cities: Berlin, London, and New York. Bike journeys are represented in three geospatial visualizations designed to be progressively more analytical, from animated trails to small-multiple glyphs. In this paper, we describe our design concept and process, the exhibition setup, and discuss some of the insights visitors gained while interacting with the visualizations.


Linking structure, texture and context in a visualization of historical drawings by Frederick William IV (1795-1861)

— in: International Journal for Digital Art History; No 2, 2016

In this article we present a case study on digital representation of the art historical research and metadata brought together for a scientific collection catalogue by the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg. The resulting interface aims at linking the structure and texture of a collection of drawings by Frederick William IV of Prussia (1795–1861) with additional contextual information. The article describes the context of the larger research project and presents the resulting visualization and interaction techniques specifically designed for dynamic exploration along time and subjects.