Mark-Jan Bludau Information Visualization

Mark-Jan Bludau is a research associate at the Urban Complexity Lab. His main field of interest lies in information visualizations with special focus on cultural heritage data, interaction techniques and bridging of close and distant views.

He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in communication’s design at the FH Aachen as well as a Master’s degree in Interface Design at the FH Potsdam. During his bachelor’s degree, including a semester abroad at the University of Buenos Aires, he was mainly interested in the creation of infographics and information design and received the Gold – Information is Beautiful Award  for his infographic-based bachelor’s thesis. In his master’s studies he focused on interactive data visualizations, concluding with his master’s thesis, an explorative art collection interface in collaboration with the Berlinische Galerie, where he experimented with perspective-dependent visualizations. Currently, his research is focussed on development of novel interaction techniques for explorative interfaces, the visualization of cultural heritage data and bridging of close and distant views.

Projects Contributions

Publications Published Works

The Fold: Rethinking Interactivity in Data Visualization

— DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly. 14:3, 2020

We propose the philosophical notion of the fold as an evocative vocabulary for the design and critique of interactive data visualizations. An expanding range of application areas, such as digital art history and literary studies, illustrates the potential of data visualization for research and education in the humanities. Coinciding with the increasing currency of data as evidence in the humanities, this research addresses a growing interest in data visualization for visual analysis and argumentation. For example, cultural collection visualizations promise a range of possibilities for visual and interactive representations of digital cultural heritage, used both for free exploration and focused research. Based on the concept of the fold, prominently advanced by Gilles Deleuze, this paper outlines a critical framework that draws attention towards the complexity of the underlying data. The fold offers a way to analyze and conceptualize visualizations through the lens of three integrated operations: explication, implication, and complication. It is an opportunity to think of interactive visualizations as portals into coherent, elastic, and ultimately infinite information spaces. Accordingly, it rejects the separation between interactivity and visual encoding and draws attention to the transitions between multiple states of a visualization. We identify design patterns of the fold in data visualizations, devise a framework for the critical interpretation of interactivity in data visualization, and demonstrate the implications for the digital humanities.


Reading Traces: Scalable Exploration in Elastic Visualizations of Cultural Heritage Data

— Computer Graphics Forum (Proc. EuroVis). 39(3), 2020

Through a design study, we develop an approach to data exploration that utilizes elastic visualizations designed to support varying degrees of detail and abstraction. Examining the notions of scalability and elasticity in interactive visualizations, we introduce a visualization of personal reading traces such as marginalia or markings inside the reference library of German realist author Theodor Fontane. To explore such a rich and extensive collection, meaningful visual forms of abstraction and detail are as important as the transitions between those states. Following a growing research interest in the role of fluid interactivity and animations between views, we are particularly interested in the potential of carefully designed transitions and consistent representations across scales. The resulting prototype addresses humanistic research questions about the interplay of distant and close reading with visualization research on continuous navigation along several granularity levels, using scrolling as one of the main interaction mechanisms. In addition to presenting the design process and resulting prototype, we present findings from a qualitative evaluation of the tool, which suggest that bridging between distant and close views can enhance exploration, but that transitions between views need to be crafted very carefully to facilitate comprehension.


Die Falte: Ein Denkraum für interaktive und kritische Datenvisualisierungen

— in: Konferenzband zur DHd 2020 Paderborn - Spielräume: Digital Humanities zwischen Modellierung und Interpretation, 2020

Wir schlagen den philosophischen Begriff der Falte als Denkraum für die Gestaltung und Interpretation interaktiver Datenvisualisierungen vor. Visualisierungen geisteswissenschaftlicher Sammlungen bieten spannende Möglichkeiten für interaktive Repräsentationen, welche die Sammlungen und ihre zugrundeliegenden Objekte zugänglich machen, sie aber ebenso kritisch beleuchten sollten. Dies führt nicht selten zu komplexen und teils widersprüchlichen Anforderungen an die entstehenden Visualisierungen. Das von Gilles Deleuze ausgearbeitete Konzept der Falte eröffnet einen Denkraum, der die Aufmerksamkeit nicht nur auf die Vielfalt visueller Repräsentation, sondern auch auf die vermeintliche Objektivität der zugrundeliegenden Daten lenkt. Darüber hinaus bietet die Falte eine Möglichkeit, Visualisierungen durch die Linse von drei integrierten Operationen zu analysieren und zu konzeptualisieren: Explikation, Implikation und Komplikation. Durch diese Linse betrachtet werden interaktive Visualisierungen zu Portalen, welche Zugang zu kohärenten, elastischen und letztlich unendlichen Informationsräumen anbieten können.


Scalable Exploration. Prototype Study For The Visualization Of An Author’s Library On The Example Of ‘Theodor Fontane’s Library’.

— In Book of Abstracts of the Digital Humanities conference (DH) 2019: Complexities. Utrecht (The Netherlands), 2019

This article presents a prototype for the explorable and scalable visualization of an author’s library and its reading traces. It aims to combine design-oriented approaches to the visualization of cultural collections with philological, archival and library research questions.

The visualization concept developed in the project places a special focus on continuous navigation within an author’s library that can be zoomed and filtered at several granularity levels and that allows the exploration of individual objects as well as their comparison. It focuses on the experience and comprehensibility of the collection as a whole and the reading and usage patterns reflected in it, as well as provides access to individual phenomena.


Relational Perspectives as Situated Visualizations of Art Collections

— In Book of Abstracts of the Digital Humanities conference (DH) 2019: Complexities. Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2019

With relational perspectives we explore the potential of a new type of approach for the exploration of cultural collections. Cultural collections can contain thousands of artifacts, of which each typically possesses a diverse set of properties constituting a unique relationship to the rest of the collection. Therefore, to create an appropriate representation of the complex data of each underlying artifact, oftentimes it is not only interesting to get an overview about the entire collection from one perspective, but to explore the particular context and relations of individual items. To investigate the potential of relational perspectives we selected an art collection as a particularly promising case study. By following a collaborative and iterative design process with an art museum, we developed a web interface that contrasts a collection overview with three perspective-dependent views to examine the viability of this approach and to expose the diversity of each artifact.


Skalierbare Exploration. Prototypenstudie zur Visualisierung einer Autorenbibliothek am Beispiel der ›Handbibliothek Theodor Fontanes‹

— in: Konferenzband zur DHd 2019 Frankfurt & Mainz - Digital Humanities: multimedial & multimodal, 2019

Der Beitrag stellt einen vom Theodor-Fontane-Archiv der Universität Potsdam in Kooperation mit der Fachhochschule Potsdam entwickelten Prototyp zur explorier- und skalierbaren Visualisierung einer Autor*innenbibliothek und der darin enthaltenen Lektürespuren vor. Ziel ist die Verbindung gestaltungsorientierter Ansätze zur Visualisierung kultureller Sammlungen mit philologisch-, archiv- und bibliothekswissenschaftlichen Forschungsfragen. Das im Projekt entwickelte Visualisierungskonzept legt einen besonderen Fokus auf die kontinuierliche, auf mehreren Granularitätsebenen zoom- und filterbare Navigation innerhalb einer Autorenbibliothek, die die Erkundung einzelner Objekte ebenso zulässt wie deren Vergleich. Die Erfahr- und Erfassbarkeit der Sammlung als Ganzes und der sich in ihr abbildenden Lektüre- und Benutzungsmuster stehen dabei ebenso im Zentrum wie Zugänge zu Einzelphänomenen.


Mapping governance of adaptation to climate change in Switzerland

  • Dominik Braunschweiger
  • Marco Pütz
  • Frank Heidmann
  • Mark-Jan Bludau
— in: Regional Studies Regional Science. 5:1, 2018

Climate change severely affects Alpine regions. Adaptation to climate change is needed in order to deal with these impacts, but the implementation of national adaptation strategies is inhibited by multiple obstacles. Regional strategic frameworks are just emerging, adaptation is of little priority to local agendas and policy mainstreaming is limited on all administrative levels. This paper provides a better understanding of the governance of adaptation to climate change in Switzerland, an example of a federal system with a strong focus on subnational levels and multilevel governance. We conceptualize governance as a network of policies, measures, actors and knowledge, and visualize their interactions using D3.js, a data-driven JavaScript library. The findings illustrate the typical division of labour in federal multilevel governance systems. The national level provides a strategic framework and funding and conducts coordinating measures at subnational levels, especially the local-level implementation of concrete measures. Conducting comparable mappings for other countries would allow interesting comparisons and insights into common barriers and opportunities to adaptation to climate change.