Monday, April 12, 2010

Botanical art and data analysis-Huh?

I've written a lot of times about making business analysis more science than art. Is there then any aspect of analysis that I think needs more artistic vision? Yes, the entire process itself.
Birgitta Volz is an unusual botanical artist who works in auroville, India. She makes bark prints(by coloring the tree bark with organic natural color and making direct impressions on paper from it), wood prints and plant prints. When I first laid eyes on her work, the analyst in me stood in awe. The beauty of the art lay in it's clean, clear ink capture of the plant and the end result clearly brought out the thought, process, work, story and final result.
When I look at an analysis what I usually see is a crisp story sometimes well put together and at other times all over the place. What is usually missing is the creative aspect and something that I 'm always looking for. It must make me feel!
What is the art in the science then you may ask? Here is my version-

1. Has the doer really visualised the details of her work in her minds eye? It could be the story, the charts, the main points, the 'how to tell it' or the statistical work.

2. Has she followed a process(some times structured sometimes abstract) to arrive at the end?

3. Has she worked smart and hard? The fleshing out of the story with the right numbers and analysis is the key.

4. Does the overall analysis flow well? Is there attention to detail?

5. Has she stuck with the smaller picture and detail or the larger picture and less detail or both?

6. Does the final product reflect all that has gone in? Does it go where it intended to at the start?
Unfortunately some of the best analysis or numerical work is missing the above. Most of them leave me cold not because the work is not done but because 'the something extra' is missing. That something extra is not the 'art of creative story telling' rather the passion of number crunching to bring out a good story.
For all those of you not yet convinced that data analysts should learn about 'art' of their work from painters; here are some examples of the art I call science. They tell the story of plants.
Chameli Ramachandran
ASBA(The American Society Of Botanical Artists) member gallery


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