There’s a lot to be anxious about during a pandemic, and there’s a lot to be overwhelmed by. Some have simply tried to minimize their interaction with the news to a need-to-know bases, while others, like popular data journalist Mona Chalabi, are using their considerable creative skills to come up with novel ways of processing the ever changing flow of information. On Wednesday, Chalabi released special editions of the dynamic, data-driven coronavirus charts she’s been posting to her account on Instagram over the past five weeks. Three illustrations that have been printed in editions of 25 are available through a collaboration with Absolut Art. Chalabi’s creations are somehow fun, soothing and digestible, even as they’re presenting serious information.
By showing where she gets her informational sources and presenting new data in an accessible and lighthearted way, Chalabi’s work invites readers to look out for numerical ways in which their environments are changing for themselves. Additionally, Chalabi’s charts have the effect of making the pandemic seem more interesting than it is terrifying, which is a huge feat in and of itself. “My research can start anywhere-a question from a friend, a new academic study or something the President just said,” Chalabi told Observer. “From there, I create a computer-generated chart and then I trace over it with illustrations.”
Plus, due to the fact that there’s been a lot of conflicting information about best practices from the nation’s officials who’re supposedly in charge, Chalabi’s guideline posts about how best to protect your own health are particularly straightforward, bracing and welcome. More generally, Chalabi’s creations address subjects as broad as bird maturation, the spinning of the earth and how often sea waves crest, indicating that her work gets its appeal from her soothing gestures to the rhythms of the planet that have not yet been changed by the pandemic.
Human beings may never be the same after we ride out this deadly novel coronavirus, but the ancient planet is more than equipped to weather a couple of health scares. Chalabi’s data-art teaches us that although there are many unknowns during a pandemic, there are still certain phenomenons that can still be measured and quantified, and that is a very calming thought.