New Proposal Part I

Sport statistical research has gained momentum as groups attempt to improve athletes and coaches in the fields of Sports Science, Performance Analysis and Sport Economics. Within competitive sport codes teams are looking for the leading edge which will help them reach the top and stay there. I believe there is only so much training, assisted recovery, healthy eating and lifestyle an individual can do before you need to look outside the personal limitations.
For my project I would like to create an interactive data sculpture using sport statistics. Hopefully modelling the data in 3D will help people understand the information quicker than seeing it on a computer screen or piece of paper. I still need to work through the details but I hope to be able to produce a set up similar to Teehan + Lax Labs’ Season in Review in terms of using an iPad as the light source and interaction platform for the sculpture. I plan on using roller derby stats as my data source, design and code in Processing, and use the iPad app Processing for iOS (Javascript) or something similar as the interface between the data and the sculpture. For the modelling part of the project, I am still undecided as to what materials I would like to use as I believe it will depend on how I wish to visualise the outcome. However, as I plan on using “light” as a theme it will most likely have transparent elements to it.

Originally, I was going to continue working on my previously posted proposal (nature inspired jewellery) however, since last week my concept has change a great deal mainly as a result of browsing through Pinterest. The project, Season in Review, connected with me on different levels that I wanted to see if I could create something as interesting as well being a tool for finding patterns within the data. The three key themes that I will be aiming to implement are user interaction, the use of light and creating a physical visual representation of data. I will still be using roller derby game statistics and hopefully at the end of the semester I will have achieved a sculpture that addressed the key themes as well as being visual appealing and easy to understand.
Below are some existing digital design works that I came across while researching my proposal.

Season in Review by Teehan + Lax Labs
As mention in my last post, I came across this project via Pinterest. It encompasses all three themes that I would like to show in my project – user interaction, use of light and creating a physical visual representation of data.
Sculpture – combination of using an existing digital device, the iPad, and fabricating a three dimensional form out of acrylic, plywood and a laser cutter. The iPad serves as the control panel as well as provides extra information relating to the overall project.
Light – uses the iPad as a light source which reflects into transparent acrylic plastic slides. They have used the technique of edge lighting to great effect. Mainly used for signage the use of this illumination method creates another level to the project making it eye catching as well as the serves as the interaction element.
Interaction – the use of the iPad’s multi-touch interface as the controller automatically creates a level of interaction. Paired with the use of light it brings the sculpture to life and draws the user in.


Data Sculptures
Form Follows Data by Iohanna Nicenboim
Iohanna creates an appealing sculpture influenced by the statistics of the amount of coffee she consumes during a week. She represents this information as a topographically map on the inside of a coffee cup. Interested in the relationships between objects, space and people, Form Follows Data certainly brings these ideas into play by using personal statistics to redesign an everyday object.


Keyboard Frequency Sculpture by Mike Knuepfel
This sculpture represents the frequency of which keys on a computer keyboard are used. The three-dimensional element to this project, I believe makes the sculpture a lot more interesting than visualising it in two-dimensional graph format. The use of height allows for the viewer to quickly understand the data on display.


Using Light
Future Times – 2007 by Christopher O’Leary and Casey Alt
Future Times use 100 one foot square acrylic plates that are illuminated individually by a horizontal light source that moves up and down one side of the sculpture.

Centograph by!
Users type keywords into a laptop which then speaks to the sculpture by moving acrylic bars up and down to represent the frequency of the keyword found in Google News Archives during 1909 – 2009. Pretty much a moving bar graph it’s not the most exciting project but the interaction element does succeed in attracting users and appealing to their curiosity.

Processing initiated by Ben Fry and Casey Reas
Processing is an open source programming environment and language which serves as a software sketchbook and digital tool for people to create animations, interactions and images. The use for this program is continually expanding with audiences from students to designers and hobbyists to researchers.

Processing for iOS (Javascript) by Boyd Rotgans
Boyd has created a Processing editor for the iPad and iPhone. It does not have the full functionality of the web based version but it still allows for sketches to be created, edited, removed and displayed. It does mean I will be under some limitations on my design as I’ll have to work within the constraints of the app. From the reviews on the app so far says that it doesn’t permit copy and pasting within the sketch or pasting from external sources. It does permit copying and pasting into other source though. The advantages of using the iPad for coding are the ability design anywhere and at any time as I find having to set up my laptop time consuming and frustrating.

Using an online connection you have the ability to run real time Processing sketches on the iPad. I had a play and cut and paste the example sketch from Boyd Rotgans. One issue is that it didn’t recognise the mouse “finger” dragging attribute. This might not be an issue for my project but something to consider in my design if I use this program.

The aim of my project is to design and built an interactive data sculpture based on a series of roller derby game statistics. At the moment, as this project has a strict deadline I will more than likely focus on one team and the games they play throughout a year. Hopefully, if all goes well I might be able to add more games and teams further down the line. The big issue is how I might visualise the data in a way that is easily understandable and eye-catching. Ideally, I would hope that the finished outcome would provide the user some insight to how the team tracked during the period and if they were any trends. I will use the iPad as the interactive interface control panel and light source which will bring to life the data sculpture. Throughout the project I will research various avenues to develop my skills and knowledge in hope to create a program in Processing. I plan on exploring different materials and ways of using light as part of the interaction. If possible I also wish to achieve the ability to highlight a player within the sculpture which adds another layer but could illustrate player effectiveness within a jam.

The success of this project will be the ability to answer the following questions. I think this project might be stretching my skills and knowledge quite a bit, but I’m up for the challenge.

  • What data will be represented?
  • What will the sculpture be made out of?
  • Is there a story? What is it going to represent? What makes it different some stats on paper?
  • How will interaction be used?
  • Were there any challenges or benefits of turning a data visualisation into a sculpture?
  • Was there anything lost or gained by making it physical and tangible?
  • What did you learn?

To keep me on track and able to answer these questions I will update my timetable and created a To Do list. I will hopefully have this and have Part II of my proposal – the description and methodology of how I will complete this project – up in the next couple of days.

All resources and ideas not my own will be referenced. As I am using data that identifies individuals, I have decided to replace personal information (eg name and number) with generic terms if need. I plan on documenting my work in detail via this blog and upload completed sketches to Open Processing as I would like to share my sketches so that others can use or suggest improvements.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Reflective Report | Short Ramblings

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