Lives in Process

Lives in Process is a data-driven newspaper reporting on the Russia-Ukraine War and Ukraine’s refugee crisis with a real-time data prototype of visualizing the counts with font size and numbers of refugees fleeing Ukraine.


Yan Yan, Student Project

Practice Area


Art Center College of Design


The Challenge

The main challenge I faced during this project was likely the process of collecting and processing real-time data from the New York Times API. This would have required a significant amount of programming knowledge and expertise in order to retrieve the necessary data and convert it into a format that could be used for visualization purposes. Additionally, working with large amounts of data can be time-consuming and may require additional effort to ensure that the data is accurate and relevant to the project.

Project Vision

This project mainly explores globalization and migration in a postcolonial world. It does not propose a solution but instead focuses on reexamining our capacity for compassion and the potential for graphic design to engage social issues that benefit the public good instead of selling more products. It tries to redirect ‘design for good’ projects in more ethical, reciprocal ways. Facing crisis, how can graphic designers create real impact with meaningful social issues? How can designers promote much greater awareness of the global crisis we face? The current Russia-Ukraine War has no doubt made the topic of this project all the more relevant and timely.

My hope for this project is that it hits home with those who experience it and shines a fresh light on why solving the refugee crisis matters so much to all of us. This is not a project about refugees’ tragedy but instead a quest for transformation. I hope that can begin here, with people seeing that, as human beings, we’re all part of this.

Yan Yan

Yan Yan

Design + Execution

Lives in Process was designed to graphically visualize the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting refugee crisis. The project aimed to explore globalization and migration in a postcolonial world and raise awareness of the global crisis faced by refugees. I utilized JavaScript and APIs to collect real-time data from the New York Times, which was then passed into a Processing sketch for visualization. The font size was used to visualize the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine.

This crisis is not only the staggering number of refugees with nowhere to go but the temptation to turn away in a time that asks something of each of us. The scale of the crisis, as it is right now, can only be fully depicted and understood through statistics and facts. Data can perhaps help our minds and hearts to process these events, offering an alternative to the conditioning and close-mindedness of the mainstream media that serves to desensitize viewers. You don’t watch the installations: you experience them. It provides conversations through graphic design beyond numbers, facts, text, literature or analysis and allows viewers to do more than just flip through a newspaper. The project took me about one month from concept to completion.

Yan Yan

Yan Yan

Yan Yan

Yan Yan

Yan Yan

Project Details
Conceptually this installation pushes stories we can tell with artfully automated infographics and news over an interactive timescale.
Juror 1
The use of projection live data on a familiar form is really effective in this project. It reimagines what a newspaper can be and brings it into the future. The touch activated scrolling and gestures offer something viewers typically would only read with an interactive quality that is really unique to this type of experience.
Juror 2
Design Team

Yan Yan (designer)
Brad Bartlett (instructor)
Miles Mazzie (instructor)
Julian Stein (instructor)

Photo Credits

Yan Yan

Open Date

March 2022