List of Physical Visualizations
and Related Artifacts
With tag “participatory”

1901 – Davenport’s Physical Distributions

In 1901, biologist Charles Davenport "built" physical visualizations that show the distributions of features of objects and people. These visualizations were made out of the objects and the people themselves. The purpose was to explain the notion of statistical distribution to a lay audience. On the left image, seashells are piled up according to how many ribs they have. On the middle image, students are arranged in bins according to their height. […]

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1970 – MoMA Poll: Participatory Bar Chart

German-American artist Hans Haacke created a participatory physical bar chart as part of a 1970 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The audience expressed his opinion on the question "Would the fact that Governor Rockefeller has not denounced President Nixon's Indochina Policy be a reason for your not voting for him in November?". The left plexiglass box collected "Yes" answers, while the right box collected "No" answers. Rockefeller was running for […]

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1973 – Mazamet Ville Morte

In 1973, the French town of Mazamet had a population that closely matched the nationwide number of motor vehicule deaths across the previous year. A TV reporter decided to show all inhabitants lying on the floor to symbolize these deaths. Source: Marieaunet (2010) 1973 Mazamet ville morte.  

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1991 – Münster Congestion Visualization

In order to encourage bus use, in 1991 the city of Münster, Germany created a poster that compares the space taken by 72 bicycles (left), 72 cars (middle), and a bus (right). Sources: Benjamin Starr (2014) How Much Space Do Cars Take? Cyclists Demonstrate How Bicycles Flight Congestion Image from visualnews.com

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2006 – Inverted Participatory Bar Charts

Participatory physical visualization where people pick badges from tanks to vote. A lower bar means more votes. Source: Lucy Kimbell (2006). Physical Bar Charts.

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2008 – Kids Reconstruct Harry Potter’s Social Network

At the 2008 science fair (fête de la science), the Aviz group had kids build physical node-link diagrams of Harry Potter's social network using magnets and rubber bands. Source: Aviz. http://www.aviz.fr/old/fetedelascience08/

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2011 – Ursus Wehrli’s Art of Clean Up

Ursus Wehrli, a Swiss comedian and artist, is known for his parodic art project called "Tidying up Art", where he rearranges well-known paintings in an orderly fashion (see his 2003 book and his 2006 TED Talk). In 2011, he started a project called "The Art of Clean Up" where he rearranges everyday objects and people. Also see our other entries on physical visualizations created by rearrangement. Sources: […]

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2012 – What made me

An interactive public installation where visitors could engage by picking coloured strings corresponding to feelings, inspirations, thoughts or influences that make the person they are today, and link these strings to words on the wall to make a path visualizing associated concepts tied to each of these feelings, inspirations, thoughts and influences.  WHAT MADE ME was designed by Dorota Grabkowska and Kuba Kolec for the Birmingham Made Me Design Expo (15-22 June 2012) at the […]

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2014 – Data Strings: Physical Parallel Coordinates

During the SWAB International Contemporary Art Fair, the group of developers Domestic Data Streamers had the audience create a physical parallel coordinates visualization based on their demographic profile (social status, weight, etc.) and by answering a meaningless question on whether they choose a spoon or a fork. Source: Domestic Data Streamers. They have a range of other interesting physical visualization projects on their Web […]

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2014 – Drip-By-Tweet: Each Vote is a Drop

Team of developers Domestic Data Streamers created a real-time physical visualization of votes for a graphic design contest. A person can vote for a specific piece by sending a tweet, after which the machine releases a drop of yellow liquid and sends it to the corresponding test tube. Source: Domestic Data Streamers.

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2014 – Physical Visual Sedimentation

This visualization created by Jennifer Payne and inspired by Samuel Huron's visual sedimentation was created from gumballs, an acrylic (plexiglass) box and adjustable foamcore bin dividers. Huron's work is inspired by the physical process of sedimentation. The above figures illustrate a participatory representation of hours of sleep for a university population, with different colours of gumballs representing different groups present on a university campus (i.e. blue gumballs for graduate students, violet […]

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2014 – DIY Bertin Matrix

This wooden matrix is a large-scale replica of Jacques Bertin's reorderable physical matrices. It shows a subset of the World Value Survey, a series of questionnaires that assess people's moral values across countries and years. This physical visualization is interactive as row and columns can be manipulated, promoting engagement and collaboration. This 18×20 matrix was built by Mathieu Le Goc in the Fablab Digscope with Charles Perin and Romain Di Vozzo, on the […]

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2015 – Physical Customer Satisfaction Survey

Participatory physical bar charts at the exit of the Antell cafeteria at the University of Helsinki. White beads represent statisfied customers, red beads are unsatisfied ones. Also see similar contraptions by Hans Haacke (1970), Lucy Kimbell (2006), and Jennifer Payne (2014). Source: Antell. Photo by Luana Micallef.

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2015 – Dan Gilbert’s TV Ads

The famous psychology professor Dan Gilbert made a series of TV commercials for the insurance company Prudential, together with Ray Del Savio from Droga5 and Colin McConnell from Prudential. These TV commercials make a clever use of participatory physical visualizations to demonstrate and explain human biases in financial planning. Ribbon Experiment (left image): Dan Gilbert asks bystanders to estimate how much money they will need to retire. He then gives each […]

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2015 – Participatory Representation of Happiness

This 2015 physicalization was part of designer Stefan Sagmeister's exhibit on happiness. It contains a participatory representation of exhibition viewer's happiness, remiscent of Hans Haacke's MOMA poll (1970) and Lucy Kimball's participatory chart (2006). The units which make up the representation are gumballs, like Jennifer Payne's participatory representation (2014). Sources: Stefan Sagmeister (2015) The Happy Show Myles Constable (2015) The Happy Show asked "How Happy Are You? The results are in…

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