Before Joseph Priestley published his famous timelines, Frenchman Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg built a 16-meter long timeline showing 140 years of world history, which can be mechanically scrolled and folded for transport. Not a physical visualization but maybe the first “interactive” timeline representation in history. Seen in a talk by Catherine Plaisant. Sources: Stephen Boyd Davis (2009) The First Modern Timeline? Stephen Ferguson (1991) The 1753 Carte Chronographique by Jacques Barbeu Du […]
1887 – Marey's Movement Sculptures
Bronze sculpture showing the phases of the flight of birds, created by French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey in 1887 based on photographs. Étienne-Jules Marey was a pioneer in the study of dynamic phenomena and invented a variety of scientific and medical instruments, photography techniques, and temporal visualization methods. A wealth of information is available about him online. Also see our entry on Peter Jansen's movement sculptures, inspired from his work. Sources: Russel Naughton […]
1915 – Wire Models of Factory Worker Movements
3D wire models of hand motion paths (or chronocyclegraphs) created by Frank Gilbreth, a pioneer in the study of motion in the workplace. In his 1917 book, Gilbreth explains how he created these solid models from time-lapse photographs, and how useful they are to study and teach human motion. Left image: Wire model of foreman on drill press. This shows “positioning” in the midst of “transporting.” Right image: First photograph of wire models showing one man's progress of learning paths […]
1926 – Karsten's Tridimensional Chart
American economist and statistician Karl G. Karsten patented a method for creating physical visualizations of temporal data by stacking two-dimensional plates, each representing a time period. Each of the plates shown above is a variable-width column chart representing the state of the stock market at the end of a particular month. Each bar is a type of stock, where the height of the bar encodes the stock price and its width encodes volumes of sales. Each month, a new layer is added. Seen […]
1935 – 3D Visualizations of Power Consumption
A large 3D physical visualization made by the Detroit Edison Company showing electricity consumption for the year 1935, with a slice per day and each day split into 30 min intervals. Two other examples from different Edison electricity companies are discussed in Brinton's book. These physical visualizations seem to have been used to better anticipate power demands. Also see our entry 1951 - Electricity Generated or Demanded. Sources: Willard Cope Brinton (1939) Graphic Presentation pp […]
1951 – Electricity Generated or Demanded
A 3D chart made out of a jagged cardboard for each year representing generated electricity and demand over time. Three-dimensional chart used by Central Electricity Generating Board planners, c.1954. Consists of about 300 cards with square-cut stepped edges in an enclosure of chrome steel uprights, mounted on a wooden base, with a handle at each end. Data represented from October 1951 to April 1954. An early example of 3D data visualisation [...] Also see our entry 1935 - 3D […]
2003 – Time Pieces: Physical Space-Time Cubes
Artist Marilynn Taylor created seven three-dimensional maps (one for each day of the week) in which time is the z-axis and a copper wire shows how she moved across the city during the day. Source: Maryline Taylor (2003) Time pieces - Mapping the time and space of place (2003 version).
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
2004 – Cylinder: Early Sound Sculpture
Cylinder by Andy Huntington and Drew Allan may be one of the first digitally-fabricated sound sculptures. Also see our entry 2007 - Explosion of sound sculptures. Source: http://extraversion.co.uk/2003/cylinder/
2005 – Time-Evolving Scatterplot
Unemployment rate plotted against inflation for 8 countries over 10 years. Every layer represents a year and each country is a wire of a different color. This physical visualization was built by Tim Dwyer for his PhD dissertation. His goal was to experimentally compare a 3D and a 2D data representation, and he used a physical object to emulate a perfect 3D display. Source: Tim Dwyer (2005) Two and a Half Dimensional Visualisation of Relational Networks. PhD Dissertation.
2006 – Peter Jansen's Movement Sculptures
Dutch artist Peter Jansen creates sculptures of moving characters by merging successive snapshots into a single monolithic object. These are not physical visualizations as they do not display data, but the technique could certainly inspire the creation of physical visualizations for complex temporal data. The idea of merging time slices is reminiscent of the pioneering work of Étienne-Jules Marey in the 1880s on chronophotography. See our entry on Marey's movement sculptures. Source: Peter […]
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 of the Sound of the Shape of the Sound by […]
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).
2008 – Activity Logging with LEGO Bricks
A visualization and logging method for personal work activity. Every tower is a day of the week. A layer is one working hour, horizontally subdivided in four quarters of an hour. Different colors are different projects. The constant availability of this interface makes it easier to log personal activity data on-the-fly, before entering it in a PIM software (an automatic method involving computer vision is being considered). Source: Michael Hunger (2008) On LEGO Powered Time-Tracking. Blog […]
2008 – Justin Stewart's Data Sculptures
A 3-D graph and a time series visualization. Source: http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/tag/r-justin-stewart/
2009 – Centograph: Dynamic Bar Charts Show Keyword Popularity
Ten actuated bar charts that show the popularity of keywords of interest in news articles over time, made by the company Tinker from London. A separate search interface is provided on a regular desktop computer and sends queries to the Google News Archive. It is permanently installed in the St Paul's School for Boys Computing Department in London. Sources: infosthetics Tinker London
2011 – Sleep Patterns
Laurie Frick's Pokey Red is a physical visualization of sleep data over a month. Frick makes an interesting use of the physical support: in her visualization, periods of sleep of a lesser interest (light sleep) are folded up, giving more importance to the periods of quality sleep (coloured rectangles), while remaining integral part of the visualization. "Pokey Red" 12 in x 12 in, cut paper, watercolor and ink. Based on a month of sleep data, with the light sleep (aka trash sleep) periods […]
2011 – Blip: A Year of Travel
In his experiments with visualizing data from Tripit to look back at his own (and other people's) travel, Cemre Güngör came up with a new system to create data sculptures from one's travels over time. This work is of a particular interest, in that it shows an excellent example of how a physical visualization design process unfolds, with many questions unique to physicalization add up to the challenge of designing an effective visual representation, i.e., contrasting materials and treatments […]
2011 – Laser-Cut Time Series
Temperature measurements in Helsinki from May 2009 to May 2010. Each row is one week long. Source: Miska Knapek, see flickr photoset.
2012 – Bit Planner - LEGO calendar
Vitamins studio created The Bit Planner, an elegant wall mounted time and resource planner made entirely of Lego bricks. In this tangible calendar, each gray row represents a month, and each gray rectangle represents a week, and everyone in the group has their own line in the calendar (see left image). Projects are associated to different colors, and each LEGO block corresponds to half a day spent working on a project. While entirely tangible, the Bit Planner can be synched with an online, […]
2012 – Google Eye: Radial Visualization of Page Visits
During the Generator.x 3.0 workshop, interaction designer Andrej Boleslavský created a radial visualization of page visits where each day spans a specific angle of the ring, and the entire ring spans one year. Source: Andrej Boleslavský (2012) Google Eye.
2012 – Dynamic Network Sculpture
A physical space-time cube representation of cultural heritage data. Source: Florian Windhager, Eva Mayr. Cultural Heritage Cube: A conceptual framework for visual exhibition exploration. IV '12.
2013 – Motion Structures: Videos as Space-Time Objects
Everardo Reyes-Garcia from Université Paris 13 turns video sequences into space-time shapes that can be 3D printed. The sculpture above represents 5 seconds of the opening theme of Game of Thrones. Also see our entry on Peter Jansen's sculptures. Source: Everardo Reyes-Garcia (2013) Motion Structures.
2013 – Season in Review: iPad + Physical Charts Show Baseball Stats
Baseball stats for an entire season created by Teehan+Lax labs as a combination of an interactive ipad app with an overlay of physical charts cut from acrylic. Depending on the current choice in the app, the edges of different charts get highlighted by the ipad. Source: Teehan+Lax labs & vimeo.
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.
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