Introducing the Critical Visualisation Network at TORCH

On Tuesday 13th December, a diverse group of scholars - from graduate students to professors - from across a wide range of disciplines, joined together in the Radcliffe Humanities Building for the launch of the Critical Visualisation Network at TORCH.

The launch event was co-convened by co-founders of the network, Pip Willcox, Head of the Centre for Digital Scholarship, and Dr. Ségolène Tarte, Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford’s e-Research Centre. The workshop kicked off with a keynote by Dr. Igea Troiani, a trained architect, academic and filmmaker. Her fascinating talk centred on her current research into unfinished buildings which uses photography and filmmaking as visual research methods to critique the relationship between architectural labour, development and neoliberalism. Highlights included examination of a digital, animated visualisation of Hyperloop One, designed by BIG Architects and presented by Squint/Opera, as well as discussion of Spain’s unfinished ‘ghost-towns’ following the country’s economic fall since 2008, including Seseña and Ciudad Valdeluz. The audience engaged closely, offering many insightful questions, comments and reactions following the talk.

During the second part of the event, following a coffee and lunch break, participants gathered for a more intimate discussion on planning the future of the network. Using a word-map displaying keywords around the theme of Critical Visualisation, which had been developed at a preliminary workshop in May, as a central stimulus, a space was created for sharing understanding of and practices behind many of the words which picked up on themes from the keynote speech. Visualisations at all stages of research from roots to inception, from exploration to communication, were discussed. Of particular note was a critical and extremely interesting discussion surrounding the terms ‘filtering’, ‘uncertainty’ and ‘performative’, within which issues regarding different types and sources of data used in visualisations, as well as hidden information, were debated. It was also suggested to add some other keywords such as ‘rhetoric’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘explanatory’. A discussion around ambiguity in visualisation was also started, and this theme will be worth revisiting, either through other thematic discussions or as a subject in itself.  Interdisciplinary commonalities emerged alongside generative disagreement which will help to shape future directions of the network.

Democratically consulted on the types of activities that the network will hold, participants expressed their wish to see lunchtime seminars involving external speakers, and a 1-day symposium, but we welcome all further suggestions.

Activities in the network will continue in 2017. For more information, or if you have any further ideas on the future of the network, please visit or contact

Highlighted words on the word-map picked up on themes from the keynote speech within subsequent discussion.

Erin Young


Critical Visualization, TORCH Networks


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