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Dear Nightingale Submissions: Raveling Data

This edition of the Dear Nightingale analogue data visualization challenge, hosted by textile artist India Johnson, prompted readers to transform a piece of fabric into data viz by cutting, picking, or pulling it apart. Check out the submissions:


Martina Morini: “Mourning You”: Every day hundreds of people attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life. Some of them succeed; some do not. In February 2023 I was onboard an NGO vessel that found a boat that had been adrift for six days. This viz tells this story.


Núria Altimir: This piece uses embroidery as a metaphor for beauty and interconnection in nature. I embroidered a flower with 18 petals, one for each 5-year period from 1937-2022. Each petal carries as many strands as the percentage of remaining wilderness at that time. The loss between periods is represented by falling strands.


Parvathy Raju Arangath: The Binge Blanket is a hand-woven blanket embedded with data regarding my Netflix viewing activity for 2021. The Data is embedded into the strands of each yarn used to weave it. Each thread of the yarn depicts an hour of the binge from a day in 2021 and the colour depicts the genre of the media viewed. Beads on each end of the Blanket denote the date of streaming. Using the medium of Blanket to depict this data was apt since I almost always Binge watch Netflix from the comforts of my bed, wrapped under a fluffy blanket!

The main aim of this tangible data visualisation was to understand and see patterns relating to my viewing behaviour, which genres and media I view often, and so forth.


Ellen Bechtel: My best friend wore these sequin pants to their wedding! I helped them hem the pants to the right length by cutting off 1 inch of fabric, which got me thinking… sequins are are a great metaphor for messy data. What can we learn by unraveling this sequin fabric?

  • By counting the sequins 1 square-inch sections, I learned that the average sequin density is about 19 sequins per inch.
  • By ripping each sequin out of the fabric, I learned that each sequin was silver on one side and colorful on the other.
  • By sorting the sequins by the colorful side, I learned that most of the sequins were split-colors, but that the most single-color sequins were warm colors (yellow, orange, and pink).
  • By clustering the split-color sequins, I learned that the color splits weren’t random – there were only ever a few combinations. That suggests that the sequins were punched out of a single sheet of sequin paper that had rainbow stripes on it in the pattern of pink > orange > yellow > green > blue > purple.

Elsie Lee-Robbins: “Canaries in the coal mine”: Coral reefs are the canaries in the coal mine, and they are dying. Warming oceans caused a global bleaching event from 2014 to 2017, which resulted in bleaching-level heat stress for 75% of global reefs; with 30% of them dying (NOAA).


Luciana Brito: Ten are the letters of the word Felicidade. In the ten days portrayed, Lu Brito immersed herself in her Ph.D. research, analyzed data, wrote part of an article, and explored new knowledge. Each geometric square in the work symbolizes her activities: yellow, reading articles; purple, thorough data analysis; pink, dedication to writing an article; green, incessant search for new knowledge. The iconography portrays what the author shared in Instagram stories during the ten days of research: it includes cats, dogs, a parrot, some pictures (camera), songs (piano), and a palette, reflecting her connection with nature and different types of art, where she seeks inspiration and joy.


Kathryn Hurchla: A knitted row determines the next and becomes a chain not easily raveled. Undoing a row may switch a pattern, but if you never cast on new stitches, your make is bound by those threads you fold back in. Markov Chains can model the probability engines of artificial intelligence but are also a way to peek into AI’s demise if models become consumed by a monolithic flood of synthetic data of its own making.

Nightingale Editors

Our Nightingale editorial team currently consists of Emily Barone, Jason Forrest, and Claire Santoro. Reach us at Nightingale(at)Datavisualizationsociety.org

CategoriesData Art