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JMM 622: The Functional Art (Ch. 5 & 6)

In Chapter 5 of Professor Cairo’s The Functional Art (The Eye and the Visual Brain), Prof. Cairo explores the role the eye plays in the way we see and how people understand infographics.

Antonio Damassio said the following: “The human brain is is a natural born cartographer.” Therefore saying, we humans were born with the ability to understand visualizations and different types of graphics.

In Chapter 5 of The Functional Art, readers get a vision of the functions of the eye and the way in which sometimes we don’t know how much the levels of light can help us improve or have better focus on what we are actually supposed to focus on.

I understood the acuity of vision. For example, when you are watching a YouTube video on your laptop and you darken the rest of the desktop screen in order to watch the video. It makes sense because you don’t need that extra light.

In Chapter 6 (Visualizing for the Mind), I learned about pre-attentive features and that the brain is designed to think by default at first – but following its initial thought, it then travels to its imagination and its level of comprehension and go truly far.

Through infographics, you can guide the reader’s brain in order to figure out the main characteristics quicker (depending on how the data on the graphic is emphasized using distinct features).

For example, on the graphic shown above which was taken from Chapter 6 of The Functional Art, the visual image that pops out the most is the one in the middle. Maybe it is because the yellow is the brightest – or it might be because yellow and purple are complementary colors and they go well together.

Whatever the reason, when Cairo poses the question in his book: “How quickly can you see the wolf in the trees in each of these illustrations?” personally the answer is the yellow one. But aesthetically, the one on the top is the better looking one, as well as the most effective one, altogether. It does the job, and it is not too colorful or distracting like the yellow and purple might be to some people.

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