BRUISEs: A frighteningly personal journey

Last summer Kaki's 3-year-old daughter was suddenly diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, turning her family's life upside down.

Clinical records alone hardly capture the full impact the illness of a child has on a family. Can a softer and more empathic approach to what we so coldly call "data" help us make sense of what's happening in our lives? Can data visualization help us emotionally as well as cognitively?

Kaki and her friend Giorgia Lupi, a data designer and visual artist, tap into what Lupi calls “Data Humanism” to find out.

One day last summer, Kaki noticed her three-year-old daughter Cooper was suddenly covered with bruises. Kaki and her wife were confused and slightly worried, unable to figure out where the bruises came from. But the alarm bells really went off when, in the middle of the night, Cooper awoke with blood in her mouth.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 10.57.13 PM.png

“Heart racing, I packed her up and went straight to her pediatrician, who sent us directly to the ER.” Kaki recalls. “After a blood test she was diagnosed with a condition called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, or ITP, an auto-immune disease where her body attacks her platelets, a crucial part of blood clotting. She was getting spontaneous bruises and burst blood vessels called petechiae all over her body. The following weeks were a terrifying spree of platelet transfusions, courses of steroids, blood tests, and abject terror as we watched her platelet levels rise and fall.” 

When her friend and fellow artist Giorgia Lupi, with whom she had collaborated on a recent design project for Hennessey, learned what the family was going through, she proposed a creative exercise using music, art and data – both medical and personal – to help Kaki bring a sense of clarity and calm to what was happening. The result is the beautifully cathartic “Bruises”.

  A complete Key to interpret the Artwork

A complete Key to interpret the Artwork

 Legend— main structure

Legend— main structure

 LEGEND - the symbols

LEGEND - the symbols

 The Data, visualized

The Data, visualized

For a deeper and more detailed exploration of this project, check out Giorgia's story, "Bruises: The Data We Don't See" on her Medium blog (here).