Fanny Chevalier - The Power of Visual Representations: A Double-Edged Sword


Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto


Arvind Satyanarayan
When designing visual content in user interfaces, it is crucial to recognize that the choice of the representations used to display information and concepts plays a critical role in how we perceive, interpret, learn and reason about these information and concepts. Humans are visual creatures: we spend most of our day deriving meaning from what we see. The rich stimuli that we process within fractions of a second using vision becomes information which serves many purposes in everyday life, from mundane activities such as identifying whether an object is one we can lean onto when we need a pause, to complex intellectual tasks such as making sense of large amounts of multivariate data. In this talk, I will present my reflections on why choosing appropriate visual representations in user interfaces is such an important design decision to guide and empower people and how easy it is to underuse or misuse their power. Drawing on projects in visualization and creative authoring from my research group, I will discuss the many roles that visual representations -- from navigation widgets to data views -- can play on how we interact and reason with computing systems, and the impact on users' creative and analytical tasks.

Fanny Chevalier is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Statistics at the University of Toronto. She received her PhD from the Université de Bordeaux. Her research interests lie in Human-Computer Interaction and Information Visualization in the broad sense. She is interested in addressing the challenges involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of novel interactive tools supporting visual analytics and creative activities, with primary focus on interactive visualization for the visual exploration of rich and complex data, visualization education, computing tools supporting the flow of creativity, the design and perception of animated transitions, and sketch-based interfaces. Her research has been in Human-Computer Interaction (ACM CHI, ACM UIST) and Visualization (IEEE Infovis, IEEE VAST, IEEE TVCG) venues, several of which received nominations and awards for best paper. Her work at the intersection of visualization and creativity has led to technologies that have led to commercial products, such as Autodesk Sketchbook Motion, selected as Apple's 2016 iPad App of the Year. She is regularly serving in both the organizing and technical program committees, with most recent roles including ACM CHI 2022 Awards Chair, ACM UIST 2020 and ACM ISS 2020 program chair.