The earliest data visualizations were likely physical: built by arranging stones or pebbles, and later, clay tokens. According to an eminent archaeologist (Schmandt-Besserat, 1999): "Whereas words consist of immaterial sounds, the tokens were concrete, solid, tangible artifacts, which could be handled, arranged and rearranged at will. For instance, the tokens could be ordered in special columns according to types of merchandise, entries and expenditures; donors or recipients. The token system […]
1871 – Thermodynamic Surfaces
A physical visualization by Scottish physicist James Maxwell (left), constructed over the course of about seven months, from November 1874 to July 1875, based on the descriptions of thermodynamics surfaces described in two 1873 papers by American engineer Willard Gibbs. The molded shape depicts the geometry of the three-dimensional thermodynamic surface of the various states of existence of water: solid, liquid, orgas, shown on Cartesian coordinates of the entropy (x), volume (y), and energy […]
2018 – DayDohViz: Data Visualizations made with Play-Doh
DayDohViz is as a "daily" inspiration project that experiments with physically visualizing data in 3D using a smartphone and Play-Doh. Yes, Play-Doh. Creator Amy Cesal's subjects range from self-disclosing and serious (her personal financial data, government enforcement actions) to delicious and exhilarating (pizza types, top roller coasters). Amy has found the tactile, ephemeral & imprecise nature of Play-Doh - so different from the typical data viz technology - to be creatively […]
2019 – Physical Violin Plot
A physical violin plot created by sculptor and psychology researcher Hunter Brown. See related entries also using clay here. Source: Tweet from Julia Strand (@juliafstrand), June 12, 2019.