List of Physical Visualizations
and Related Artifacts
With tag “data-sculpture”

1995 – Loren Madsen’s Early Data Sculptures

Californian artist Loren Madsen has been making data sculptures since 1995 and still continues today. CPI / Cost of Living (left image) is the first of his series: A lamination is one year. Vertical axis is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food; the horizontal axis is the CPI for gasoline + electricity. The rising center line is the CPI for housing. The 'snout' is the […]

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2003 – Mount Fear: Elevation Map of Crime Rates

A 3D map of East London where elevation represents the rate of violent crimes between 2002 & 2003. Corrugated cardboard, 145h x 540w x 425d cm. Source: Abigail Reynolds. Mount Fear East London.

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2004 – Worry (Prayer) Beads

One bead = one year. Size of colored beads is proportional to number of terrorist-caused deaths. Black beads = no terrorist deaths. The largest bead is 2001. Also see Loren Madsen's earlier piece Tops (2001) featuring the same dataset, our entry 1995 – Loren Madsen’s Early Data Sculptures, and our interview with the artist. Sources: Loren Madsen  

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2006 – Nathalie Miebach’s Woven Sculptures

Artist Nathalie Miebach created a range of beautiful woven sculptures out of weather data. Source: Nathalie Miebach. http://www.nathaliemiebach.com/weather.html (see TED Talk).

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2007 – Global Cities: Elevation Maps of City Population

Large-scale physical density models where plywood forms represent the populations of 12 of the world’s major urban centres. Made by a team of designers and architects led by Professor Richard Burdett. Source: Eliza Williams (2007) Global Cities at Tate Modern. Right photo by Stefan Geens.

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2007 – Explosion of Sound Sculptures

In 2007-2008, sound became an endless source of inspiration for data sculptors. Examples include (images from left to right): Binaural by Daniel Widrig & Shajay Bhooshan (2007) Sound/Chair by Plummer Fernandez (2008) Sound Memory by Marius Watz (2008) Reflection by Andreas Nicolas Fischer & Benjamin Maus (2008) I Will Never Change by Us by Benga (2012) Microsonic Landscapes by Juan Manuel de J. Escalante (2012) The Shape […]

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2008 – Andreas Fischers’ Data Sculptures

Andreas Nicolas Fischer is a Berlin-based artist. Above are four of his 3-D data sculptures: Fundament (world GDP and derivatives volume) Indizes (finance data over time) A week in the life (cellphone communications) Reflection (FFT of a music piece). Source: http://anfischer.com via infosthetics.

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2008 – Justin Stewart’s Data Sculptures

A 3-D graph and a time series visualization. Source: http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/tag/r-justin-stewart/

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2008 – BMW Kinetic Sculpture

The Kinetic Sculpture is a metaphorical translation of the process of form-finding in art and design. 714 metal spheres, hanging from thin steel wires attached to individually-controlled stepper motors and covering the area of six square meters, animate a seven minute long mechatronic narrative. In the beginning, moving chaotically, then evolving to several competing forms that eventually resolve to the finished object, the kinetic […]

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2008 – Psychogeographical Mapping: Travel Logging with LEGO bricks

American artist Cory Imig reconstructed the layout of the city of Savannah using LEGO bricks, and over the course of one month she added a colored brick every time she went to a particular place. Each color is a different day of the week. Source: Cory Imig (2008) Psychogeographical Mapping (see the section Documenting of her Web page for more data sculptures).

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2009 – Form Follows Data: Tableware

This set of tableware by designer Iohanna Pani conveys personal statistical data. Source: designboom

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2009 – In-Formed: More Data-Driven Tableware

Another data-driven tableware, this time conveying world statistics. The fork on the image shows calories consumption for the US and three other countries. Source: Nadeem Haidary.

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2009 – Virtual Gravity: Giving Physical Weight to Data

Virtual gravity is an interface between digital and analog world. With the aid of analog carriers, virtual terms can be taken up and transported from a loading screen to an analog scale. The importance and popularity of these terms (data base: Google Insights for Search), outputted as a virtual weight, can be weighed physically and compared. Therefore impalpable, digital data get an actual physical […]

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2009 – Poly: Physical Bar Chart Showing Online Poll Data

Poly, a self-actuated bar chart which shows replies to online polls. Sources: Digit, London. Original polling website is down [Oct 2014]; check out an archived version instead.

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2010 – Keyboard Frequency Sculpture

A 3D bar chart on top of a keyboard which shows the frequency of each letter in the alphabet. Source: Michael Knuepfel. Keyboard Frequency Sculpture.

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2010 – Computer Glitches as 3D Objects

Glitch objects is a series of artworks by Tracy Cornish which transform two-dimensional visual results of computer glitches into three-dimensional objects by mapping properties of a visual glitch into 3D space. The left image shows glitch object 22, the right image shows glitch object 218. Computer glitches are the completely random, unpredictable and unexpected failures of digital systems. They are the result of approximated values […]

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2011 – Tōhoku Japanese Earthquake Sculpture

A data sculpture by Luke Jerram that depicts nine minutes of seismographic readings during the 9.0 earthquake. Source: Gizmodo. Photo by Luke Jerram.

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2011 – Can We Keep Up: Sponges Show Domestic Water Usage

Can We Keep Up is a a physical data visualisation that investigates the domestic need for water in cities all over the world. Source: infosthetics.com. Image from Hal Watts.

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2011 – Adrien Segal’s Data Furniture

Adrien Segal is an artist with a background in furniture design. She takes a data-driven approach where she uses data of natural events and environmental developments and transforms them into beautiful furniture. The choice of forms and materials conveys the origin of the data in an intriguing way. Left image: TRENDS IN WATER USE is a data sculpture that graphs national statistics of […]

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2012 – Matthijs Klip’s Data Sculptures

Left image: data sculpture by Dutch designer Matthijs Klip showing life expectancy of the Netherlands population. Each bar maps to an age; the bar's height represents life expectancy while its length represents the amount of people having that age. Right image: other designs by Matthijs Klip. Source: Matthijs Klip (2012) Physical Information Design.

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2012 – Hypermatrix: Animated Matrix-Walls

2012 Yeosu EXPO HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP created by media artist group : Jonpasang. Hyper-Matrix is a kinetic landscape installation created for the Hyundai Motor Group Exhibition Pavilion in Korea, the 2012 Yeosu EXPO site. The installation consists of a specially made huge steel construction to support thousands of stepper motors that control 320x320mm cubes that project out of the internal facade of the building. […]

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2012 – Emoto: Projection Augmented Heatmaps of Twitter Data

The core of the install­a­tion is a phys­ical data sculp­ture consisting of 17 objects, each repres­enting all Tweets we have collected during one day of the Olympics. Mapped onto this phys­ical sculp­ture we have then projected indi­vidual heat maps for the most inter­esting themes we have iden­ti­fied while observing emoto during the Games. Users were able to navigate through these themes using an inter­active […]

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2012 – Chaotic Flow: Abstract Flow Visualization of Copenhagen Bike Traffic

Biking is the transport form of choice in Copenhagen, Denmark. The city is equipped with generous bike lanes and the municipality put up counters at some check points to get a better estimate of the thousands of cyclists coming through every hour. Tobias Lukassen, Halfdan Hauch Jensen and Johan Bichel Lindegaard from Illutron Collaborative Interactive Art Studio used this data to create the above […]

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2013 – Turning Facebook Connections into Data Sculptures

An application created by SOFTlab and The Creators Project lets you turn your facebook social network into a beautiful crystal-like data sculpture. Sources: Kree8tiv via iohannan's pinterest. See the page on shapeways.

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2013 – Population Density Emerging from Walls

Two Yale architects created a room-sized physical visualization of world population density folded into itself: Hsiang and Mendis then turned that spatial visualization into a physical installation at the 2011 Chengdu Biennale in China. They modeled the population distribution of the entire world in a kind of inverted map that visitors could walk into, inside a 10-by-10-by-10 foot room, with North America on the ceiling, […]

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2013 – Walkable Age Pyramid

A walkable age pyramid of the German population. It was part of an exhibition on demographics by Atelier Brückner. The sculpture gives an impression how the distribution of age groups shifted between 1950 and 2010. For example, it shows how two world wars took out certain age groups and the lasting effect of the "Pillenknick" (the drop of birth rates due to the wide availability of "the […]

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2014 – People Wood: Data Sculpture of Questionnaire Data

Manor House Development Trust, a charitable social enterprise centred in Hackney, commissioned Something & Son to create a sculpture to take pride of place in the new Redmond Community Centre at Woodbury Down in North-East Hackney. Something & Son approached Inition for help creating a crowd-sourced data sculpture featuring a forest of over 400 3D-printed trees, each corresponding to an individual’s answers to an online […]

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2014 – Blaue Blumen: Handcrafted Offline Data Visualization of Population Density

Physical visualization of the population density of the world. Handcrafted with toothpicks and a styrofoam ball. Based on data taken from this map. Source: Ewa Tuteja, (http://tuteja.info/blaueblumen/) 

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2014 – Data Crystals: Conglomerated World Stats

During his residency at Autodesk, artist Scott Kildall created crystal-looking data sculptures by turning world data such as city populations into small cubes laid out on an Earth globe, then running a force-directed algorithm that conglomerates them into a monolithic structure that can be 3D-printed. The image above shows the 2500 nuclear detonations in recorded history, two of which (the black dots) are the bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only […]

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2014 – Cosmos: Carbon Exchange Captured in a Wooden Ball

Artist duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt created this two-meter spherical wooden sculpture located in a forest in England, and representing the take up and loss of carbon dioxide from the forest trees across one year. Watching the video, I was somehow expecting this sphere to roll at some point, but it did not happen. Source: Semiconductor (2014) Cosmos.

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2014 – District 5: Tube Charts Reveal Decline in Violence

California-based artist Loren Madsen, a long-time data sculptor (see our 1995 entry and our interview with him), created an outdoor sculpture where steel tubes show falling crime rates across eight crime categories over 30 years. The sculpture stands in front of a police station and jail in Chicago City. Sources: ​Healther Schultz (2015) California Sculptor Completes Commissioned Piece. Image courtesy of Loren Madsen. Also see Steven Pinker's TED Talk on the topic.

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2014 – x.pose: a Wearable Dynamic Data Sculpture

x.pose is a dynamic wearable data sculpture that makes the collection of the wearer's location data visible in real-time in the physical world. From the project webpage: x.pose is a wearable data-driven sculpture that exposes a person's skin as a real-time reflection of the data that the wearer is producing. In the physical realm we can deliberately control which portions our bodies are exposed […]

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2015 – Data Necklace of Good Night SMS

Paul Heinicker, a master student in interaction design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, created a data-driven necklace representing a long-distance relationship by sent "good night"-messages from him to his girlfriend. While visualising two years of message history, two diagonal opposing points of the rectangle constitute the starting points for both years. The ongoing sides in each case are coded to the days with and without […]

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2015 – Touching Air: Necklace Shows Air Pollution

This necklace made by Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick shows one week of air quality data measured in the city of Sheffield. Each segment is a period of 6 hours, and its appearance conveys the concentration of particulate matter during that period of time. A low concentration yields a small, round, green segment. A high concentration yields a large, spiky, red segment. Also see our entry 2014 […]

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2015 – Sicherheit: Switzerland’s Money in Bar Charts

This physical bar chart titled Sicherheit (Security) is part of the exhibition Geld – Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Money – Beyond Good and Evil) at the Stapferhaus in Lenzburg, Switzerland. It shows where Switzerland has its money from, where it spends it and how high Switzerland's debt is. Sources: Photo and most of the text above by Peter Gassner. Author of the piece currently unknown, as several studios have been involved […]

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2015 – Passim: Visual Reconceptualisation of Spatial Theories

The master thesis of Paul Heinicker, Passim, visually reflects the humanistic discourse about space. The research of spatial theory led to four major notions how to think space from a sociopolitical perspective. The installation explores the relationship of these four spatial notions by projecting visualisations of geopolitical data from the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research onto the physical sculpture. Eventually, different world-views are created, that show […]

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2015 – Summer in the City

The visualization explores the direct influence of weather and traffic volume on air pollution, comparing data of a 4-week period during summer 2015 in Lugano (Switzerland). Different colored laser cut plates fixed on wires represent daily data. As the wires are diagonally mounted on the structure, looking from different sides, they evidence either daily data or the evolution of the parameters. Source: Carola Bartsch […]

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2016 – Motus Forma: People’s Motions in a Shared Space

Motus Forma is a data sculpture by Brian Allen and Stephanie Smith that aggregates 10 hours of people movements in the lobby space at Pier 9. The 1300+ motion paths are piled up according to time. Also see our other entries on temporal data. Sources: Autodesk (2016) Motus Forma Instructables (2016) Motus Forma Photo by Pierre Dragicevic

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2016 – Housing Prices Ripping San Francisco Apart

This data sculpture depicts a map of housing prices in San Francisco. It’s a map of the city, torn at the seams. The height of each area represents the average price per square foot for recent home sales. Where neighboring areas are close in value they are connected, but if neighboring areas are too far from each other I allow them to split, tearing the […]

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