Thoughts On Designing Data Sculptures

  1. Making charts in 3D just scratches the surface;
  2. Choosing your materials wisely is critical to your physical data mappings;
  3. Moving beyond gimmicks lets you flesh out how to support multiple levels of reading.

Making Charts in 3D

Heatmap of injuries from fireworks between 2009 and 2014 in the US. Darker red represents parts ofthe body that had more injuries. Created by Judy Chang, Gary Burnett, and Andrew Mikofalvy.
‘The Humans of the Hackathon’ — created by Pratap, Richie & Sainath is a physical visualization of participation at the July hackathon conducted at Gramener, Inc.
Edible comparison of honey produced in the US in 2016 vs. 2017. Note the cracker on the left is covered in much more honey than the one on the right, and is thus more delicious data to consume! Created by Olivia Brode-Roger, Mitchel L Myers, Alicia Ouyang. Learn more.

Take Advantage of Your Material

Pieces of an interactive physical exploration of water use data. Created by Lily Xie, Sarah Caso, and Tanaya Srini.
Edible data brownies used to represent air quality in various cities. The salt level increased with air pollution levels (using a taste-based perceptual scale based on their in-kitchen experimentation). Created by Tina Quach, Margaret Tian, Tony Zeng, and Aina Martinez Zurita.

Support Deeper Investigation

A pile of Monopoly houses, used to represent the number of households in the US. Screenshot of a New York Times article.
Continuing the visual pun — Monopoly hotels used to represent households in a comparison by party affiliation. Screenshot of a New York Times article.
Data sculpture with hidden water underneath the table. Picking up each fork surprised you because it was connected to the heavy water load underneath. You can see the small black strings tying the fork to the water bucket beneath. Created by Sarah Von Ahn, Amy Vogel, and Theresa Machemer.
The second piece used the idea of colored water in 2-liter bottes to dig beyond total volume of water and into the type of water.

Conclusion

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Assistant Professor, Journalism & Art + Design, Northeastern University

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Rahul Bhargava

Rahul Bhargava

Assistant Professor, Journalism & Art + Design, Northeastern University

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