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  • Highlights from the IEEE VIS 2015 Arts Program (VISAP'15)
  • Angus Forbes, Guest Editor

This special section highlights presentations and artworks from the IEEE VIS Arts Program, or VISAP, which for 2015 included: the Data Improvisations exhibition; a series of artist talks; presentations of longer, peer-reviewed papers; and a panel discussion featuring pioneering media artists Eduardo Kac, Dan Sandin and Donna Cox. VISAP provides a forum that encourages dialogue about the relationship between aesthetics and visualization, and for discussing the potential roles of artists, humanities scholars and designers in foundational research in information visualization. The IEEE VIS conference is the premier venue for advances in visualization, bringing together researchers and practitioners from academia, government and industry to explore shared interests in tools, techniques and technology. VISAP provides an opportunity for artists and scholars to interact with the various IEEE VIS communities and to learn about the latest developments in visualization, while at the same time exposing visualization researchers to current topics and trends in the media arts.

Each of the three papers selected for this special section of Leonardo investigates novel forms of data visualization and explores the relationship between research and creative practice. Shannon McMullen and Fabian Winkler present their new project, 20/X, and discuss the critical importance of understanding visually sentient machines. Julie Freeman, Geraint Wiggins, Gavin Starks and Mark Sandler describe the challenges in accurately defining the myriad types of data used in contemporary artworks and provide a useful new taxonomy for thinking of data as a material. Julie Lein, Nina McCurdy and Amanda Hurtado present a series of visualization experiments using their Poemage software to highlight the sonic depths found within poetic materials and to enable new forms of textual analysis.

VISAP'15 and the Data Improvisations exhibition took place from 19–30 October 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. It was co-chaired by Angus Forbes, Fanny Chevalier and Daria Tsoupikova, with Jack Henrie Fisher serving as design chair. More information about VISAP'15, including the exhibition catalog and the online proceedings, can be found at <>.

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