The data visualization “A country out of breath” makes use of data visceralization to show the escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil. It does that by inviting the reader to sync its breathing with the animation being displayed on screen. The video translates the number of daily deaths as the speed and color of an expanding circle. After it reaches 500.000 deaths –the mark of July 18th, when it was released– it proceeds to expand at the same speed that tooks for 1 person to die of Covid the day before.
The mark of 500.000 deaths was represented in Brazilian newspapers in several ways, and was an opportunity for newspapers to show the gravity of the pandemic in our country. We chose the data visceralization media as a way to involve the public in this narrative, bringing it to their own body into it.
Piauí Magazine is known for its longform journalism, with textual and narrative quality. The choice to publish this kind of innovative infographic, taking a whole page scroll in the homepage, makes clear the potential that visual journalism has to communicate complex stories.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Finding a correspondence between daily death counts and different breathing paces that felt natural and appropriately conveyed a situation of crisis was a tricky challenge. We experimented with different ways to transform and aggregate the data and wanted it to feel intuitive as a metaphor.
What can others learn from this project?
We believe this project showcases the potential of visualization to play not only an informative role, but to provoke emotional impact. Elegant solutions in journalism require us to meet tight deadlines while still engaging the reader with a story – and we believe our project accomplishes this goal. Other journalists could benefit from reassessing the value of visualization as a medium and seeing how simple solutions can go a long way.