Martin Engebretsen- Multimodality Talks Series

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Martin Engebretsen- Multimodality Talks Series

data visualization

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Studying data visualization as a social and semiotic practice

Martin Engebretsen

University of Agder


Data visualizations represent a composite mode with increasing impact in society. We find colorful, often animated and interactive, visual representations of (often big) numerical data in journalism and PR, in governmental campaigns and in many workplaces. Graphs, charts and maps have the capacity to display patterns and relations in big datasets in a quick and sometimes intuitive way. Due to their clean and objective appearance, they are also effective tools for manipulation and disinformation. Thus, there are many reasons for multimodal researchers to look into the semiotic characteristics and the social applications of dataviz. How do they make meaning, how do they lie and how do they represent change on arenas for communication?

In the presentation, Martin Engebretsen will present examples, theoretical foundations and empirical findings collected from a number of studies, some of which surfaced during the INDVIL project (Innovative Data Visualization and Visual-Numeric Literacy, see


Martin Engebretsen is professor of language and communication at University of Agder, Norway. In his research he combines semiotics and media studies, with a special focus on visual and multimodal discourse in the digitalized public sphere.