Dimension Graphique: Ages

Du Bois Plate 22. Assessed Valuation Of All Taxable Property Owned By Georgia Negroes.

Tree Ring

Age. At the beginning of this project, ages seemed like the simplest dimension to start with. Given the circle diagram in Plate 22, and incorporating lessons from the natural world, we started with tree rings. Given the Age Tags in the schema, map all tag values to rings as a group of concentric circles originating at a point.

Tag Ring

Then, as applied to a specific individual, age 45.

Tag Ring

Seems simple enough, right?

But how do you account for the “playing” tag, and cases where an individual is “40-24 playing 100+”? Emboldened by the initial ease, we were lured into incorporating the major/minor tagging, where actors playing characters with different ages are labeled “playing.” How can this be represented visually? We try variations of blur for playing, black for ages and white for ages playing, separating the black ages from white or blur ages playing…

Tag Ring

Although interesting, this approach starts to fall down with larger data sets, as visualizations for individuals start to break down as the data set moves from the individual to the cast of Altered Carbon to the aggregate of all actors and roles in a year of Netflix shows…

And is this form really helping answer questions like “what is the age distribution of this cast, do cis-female or cis-male data sets show different age distributions?

A pause to ponder the question, and backtrack a bit. Besides the visual cue of tree, ring, what is the solution space in typography: what text and typographic approaches can be used to express age, and “playing age”?

Lucille Tenazas Cultural Nomad
Lucille Tenazas, frame from Cultural Nomad video.

This graphic compresses age, geography, and renders a particular itinderary though time and space.

Using this linearization of space, leads to the investigation of a horizontal, linear form: a strange hybrid of horizontal chord diagram and graph. This third pass is as chord diagram.


This graph shows 24 age values in the accumulated set of Altered Carbon Seasons 1 & 2, and 11 playing age values. An unusually large percentage of roles involve playing, at 31%. This is due to the sci-fi genre and the characters in this media object.

In terms of actor ages (top), there are 10 actors of age 40-49, but only 4 of them are playing this age. Five of these actors play ages 100+, and one plays an unknown age.

In larger data sets, the splits by gender are very revealing, showing cis-females mostly playing younger (slant left), and some age deciles where actors are absent (60, 70, 80) or never playing actual ages.

Future work is needed to understand intersections of and age, gender, nationality.