Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Suggested Sequence of Infection...: A Quantitative Artifact
Sarah Lowe
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
San Jose State University
Thesis Supervisor
Joel Slayton
Supervisor e-mail
joel AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Shannon Wright, Dr. Christine Junkerman
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Digital Media Art
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
Baroque, chandelier, data visualization, data mapping, auricular ornament, van Vianen, hybrid media, sculpture, quantitative artifact, Black Plague, Great Plague, epidemic, silversmithing,
Abstract: 200-500 words
This hybrid studio/research project synthesizes decorative ornament and medical fact, resulting in a spectacular object with an encoded secret. The artifact is a large-scale transparent plastic chandelier based formally on auricular ornament, a seventeenth-century Dutch silversmithing style developed by the van Vianen family. The designation "auricular" stems from the style's characteristic earlike motifs, a result of an artistic interbreeding of observed natural forms--anatomical, figurative, marine and animal-- with decorative strap- and scrollwork motifs influenced by Italian Mannerism. The physical structure of the chandelier is dictated by a plague mortality data set from the London parish of St. Michael Bassishaw in 1665, collated and analyzed by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan in Biology of Plagues: Evidence from Historical Populations. Each arm of the chandelier is an individual timeline from point of infection until death; the overall structure of the installation is a visualization of the spread of the disease through the parish. The chandelier is a quantitative artifact in which data is integrated with form, encoding history into art in the most literal way. The project examines and intertwines historical and contemporary use of Baroque artistic strategies and data visualization, and argues for a transgenre studio practice that obviates boundaries between art, design, and scholarship.