Exploring the conservatism of contemporary data visualisation in poetry

This paper is an ekphrastic response to claims made for the revolutionary intersection between data visualisation and poetry. The paper is a ‘visual tone poem’ which enacts its argument beyond the confines of traditional analytical writing so as to explore the ‘vernacular’ of data visualisation as a type of an avant guarde poem. The paper focuses on a case study of work from a data visualist and a poet. Using Radcliffe-Brown’s ‘anarchy’ move in anthropology to describe culture as a unified whole, this paper argues that that joking relationship evident in the case study is a reconstitution of existing power structures. In this way the claimed radicalism of the data visualisation is in fact deeply conservative.