Interaction Design School of Design

Helen Ochoa

Originally from Venezuela, my practice responds to my own experience of migration. I am interested in the representation of movement and displacement through interactive and digital art, and the development of socially engaged projects. Further, my work also explores socially responsible design practices, the relation between the user and interface, and the translation of complex information into functional design outcomes.

I have worked with multiple artists, developing digital and physical pieces of work, and collaborating in community engaged art projects. Similarly, I have collaborated with multiple collectives, social practitioners and social initiatives, producing publications, websites, animations and virtual environments. I am currently working as a junior designer.



The Venezuelan Exodus – Data Visualisation
Diasporic Chromointerference

The Venezuelan Exodus – Data Visualisation

More than five million people have fled Venezuela over the last 10 years.

Political upheaval, economic crisis, a high mortality rate due to lack of medicines, food and crime are only some of the reasons behind the exodus.
Today, the Venezuelan exodus has become the largest refugee crisis in the Americas and the Bolivarian Diaspora is scattered all around the world. Still, information about this migratory phenomenon is scarcely available and many countries do not yet recognise Venezuelan migrants as asylum seekers worth of refugee status.

The aim of my project was to research and gather in one place the numbers behind the exodus and translate them into through-provoking visualisations. As an inhabitant of the Venezuelan Diaspora, I feel I have a quote of responsibility in raising awareness around this issue; which I aim to fulfil with my artistic practice. For these data visualisations, I first research and gathered data from governmental and charity websites, and later used Processing to accurately and proportionally visualise the collected numbers. I also used Illustrator and Photoshop for designing mock-ups and After Effects for videos and map animations.

My goal was to create a campaign and a set of physical publications to be distributed, making a positive impact in the long-term visibility of what is now one of the largest migratory crisis of our contemporary world.



Diasporic Chromointerference

“El éxodo nos despide una Cromointerferencia de Color Aditivo” could be translated to “The exodus bids us goodbye with an Additive Color Chromointerference”.

During the mid-to-late twentieth century (1950’s to 1980’s). During this period, a strong debate around art polarised artistic expression between figuration and abstraction, each corresponding to a political band, left and right, respectively. In Venezuela and many other Latin American countries, right wing dictatorships banned figurative art and financed huge modernisation projects where abstract-geometric modern art had massive institutional support. Figurative art and left-wing artists found ways to bypass governmental control. These strategies included mail art, happenings, performance and other subversive types of expression.

I was inspired by the iconic piece Cromointerferencia de color aditivo (1978)  by the Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. This piece is located in the main airport in Venezuela, Aeropuerto Internacional Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía. I used as dataset searched on google images and on Flickr based on Los Caminantes (The walkers). Term granted to Venezuelan migrants that walk for weeks (or months) to neighbouring countries like Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil, and even to farther countries like Peru or Mexico. They’re sleeping on the streets and using public bathrooms with poor hygienic conditions.

Using the model Style Transfer in RunwayML, I used arbitrary image stylisation using Carlos Cruz Diez’s art that represented the aesthetic of Venezuela’s oil boom in the 1970s, confronted with the current precarious situation of my country.