Infographics: Absent Without Leave
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Abstract. It is widely regarded by cultural commentators that we are in a peri- od of unprecedented political uncertainty, in which there is a desire for simple explanations to the complex sociopolitical challenges of 21st Century. It might be argued that in this climate a mode of communication such as infographics would have considerable currency – especially within the context of interpret- ing and understanding the competing and contradictory political views that of- ten reference complex data and statistics. Infographics have always attempted to make the visualisation of information easy and accessible to ordinary peo- ple whilst maintaining an objectivity and factual accuracy, articulated in the work of the Isotope Movement and the celebrated examples by William Play- fair, Florence Nightingale and Thomas Clarkson. Other examples such as The Daily Express newspaper’s Expressographs of the mid 1950s promoted the po- litical bias of its owner and were little more than news propaganda masquer- ading as informative graphics. Whether it’s objective explanation, communi- cating a sociopolitical cause or belief, or outright deception and propaganda, infographics have been a central communication tool for many years. However this research finds an almost complete absence of infographics used during the 2017 UK General Election across a variety of communication media chan- nels. This paper questions whether infographics have a place anymore in communicating political ideas and beliefs and whether this represents an emerging irrelevance (or death) of one of graphic design’s most significant vis- ual languages. Are we entering a post-truth, post-facts, post-infographics era? This research will focus on an analysis of communication content published during the 2017 UK General Election, ranging from traditional printed newspa- pers and official political party publications to unofficial online and social me- dia output. The results presented will determine the extent of infographics diminishing value and relevance and offer some possible reasons for this phe- nomenon.