Iterative filtering methods were introduced around 2010 to improve definitions and measurements of structural features in signal processing. Like many applied techniques, they present considerable challenges for mathematicians to theorize their effectiveness and limitations in commercial and scientific usages. In this paper we recast iterative filtering methods in a mathematical abstraction more conducive to their understanding and applications. We also introduce a new visualization of simultaneous local frequencies and amplitudes. By combining a theoretical and practical exposition, we hope to stimulate efforts to understand better these methods. Our approach acknowledges the influence of Ciprian Foias, who was passionate about pure, applied, and applications of mathematics.