Monica Carroll is a student and researcher at the University of Canberra. She investigates space and writing, poetry and empathy through phenomenology. Her widely published prose and poetry have been awarded nationally and internationally.

A Visual Tone Poem

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.