These projects, done for IML440 Interdisciplinary Thesis (spring 2015), represent a range of approaches to data visualization. Key componenets of the assignment include a two-stage approach to deliverables (1. proposal with named dataset 2. the final project) and the comparative nature of the resulting visuals (using differing types  for the same data). The full assignment may be found here.

Student projects:
Stephanie Fong’s novel visualizations of data pertaining to the field of medical implants.

Student Project 2

Sample student project that uses custom visuals to give statistical information on medical devices such as implants.

Sample student visual.

Sample student project that uses custom visuals to give statistical information on medical devices such as implants.

Sample student visual 3

Sample student project that uses custom visuals to give statistical information on medical devices such as implants.

Visualizing Body Intelligence by Elisabeth Raff

After last week’s discussion of our project plans, I thought about three things:

  • Since a data set that is specific to physical reactions does not exist, I’ll have to make my own.
  • Feedback on my project plan about making this personal to me, and building from my own experiences
  • The idea of empathy – both that this is a central undercurrent, and the articles around physical empathy

From these, I arrived at the conclusion that I would visualize my own physical reactions. I chose a video that was actually sent to me by Vincent [fellow student] last week where participants are filmed as they are zapped with a taser. This video allowed me to explore physical empathy – do the parts of their bodies that react to the taser light up in mine? Or do I react to their reaction instead?

From there, I chose three ways to map this on to the body, since that is my thesis focus. They are below. I focused upon my reaction to this one video, on a second viewing (I watched it when it was first sent to me).

The Video: Part of a series of photos taken by Patrick Hall in August of 2014.

Drawn Reactions:

Raff 1I did this visualization first, immediately after viewing the series above. This is most similar to my idea for my thesis, as it allows for the most freedom by utilizing color, symbols and lines. I found that while there was a rationale for each, it may not make sense to others. This brings up the interesting thing about visualizing data – that it is ultimately about communicating data in a new way. Is this a new way? Yes. Is it communicated effectively from one person to another, ie received well? To be tested. A legend or key could have been created, but in using this in my thesis, can I expect every user to create his/her own legend?

Verbal Reactions:

Raff 2


As I have gotten reactions from testers for the videos I am considering using, I’ve noticed a strong desire to verbalize the experience from testers. So I wanted to see what addition words mapped onto the body might bring. Words have a very strong connotative and cultural backing, so these are quite strong on their own. The mapping of the words onto the body compounds this effect as the words implore the viewer to bring those actions (note they are all verbs) into their own body parts. Strain on a lower back can be instantly imagined by the viewer. The question is, does the viewer’s empathetic strain actually match mine?

System Reactions:

Raff 3

This visualization came from the idea that all the body mapping and emotion mapping I’ve seen can’t address on what level the felt sensation occurs. By highlighting only the body parts that experience the sensation, it helps to shed light on which systems tend to be our reactive systems. In the physical sense, it allows for a much clearer communication about the location of the sensation. However, with nothing more to go on, the type of sensation is completely lost in translation. Are the muscles tightening or relaxing? Is the heart beating faster or arrhythmically? We don’t know.


This was a difficult assignment, in that the data set was extremely unique and difficult to translate. It was qualitative, not quantitative and thus difficult to communicate in quick visuals. Each visualization allowed for a different component of the data to be explored, but the methods of communication left something lacking in each depiction. Much of data visualization leaves things out – such is the nature of condensing and extrapolating information to create visualizations. Yet I don’t feel that any of these visualizations are quite the best one. Ultimately, I believe a combinations will be key. I love the physical systems as the locator of the sensation, and the drawings as the way to map onto those systems. I think tagging the drawings with words will clarify them, and that when combined the words do not have to be mapped directly onto the body. A visual with all three however, would be complex and possibly time consuming for a user to create during my installation.

This knowledge of combining the three methods, however, may inform how my end result visualizations will manifest. While each user may not experience these three combined for their own sensations, this may be the way I visualize the aggregate information.

Mapped Visualizations of Building in Singapore by Paulina Abella

I’m interested in the rate of new building projects in metropolitan cities. More specifically, I choose to explore Singapore as a new city (a potential hyperflexible and high-performance city). Singapore is interesting in its efforts to become a global marker with its current building projects while still maintaining its historical presence and a green/sustainable mindset.

METHOD: A series of Maps (FG) showing density and the rate of architecture-awarded projects.


Map of Conservation Area

Architecture Awarded Projects


1. Map is showing all the architecture-awarded projects from 1994-2014. The diagram shows that the majority of the projects is within the central region of Singapore:

Abella 1

2. Map is animated in order to show the rate and growth of new projects using dots as the main graphic marker to show the pattern of the urban planning in Singapore and how it is slowly extending to the outer regions.

Abella 2

3. Map is animated in order to show the rate and growth of new projects using shaded regions as the main graphic marker in order to give a softer qualitative essence.

Abella 3