Final Project

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Due to the multiple files, the project is hosted on my website HERE.  Code has been submitted to Autolab.

For my final project I created a info vis /digital memorial to migrants that went missing while traveling across the Mediterranean.  The data came from the Missing Migrants Project, which tracks and locates migration around the world.

This project turned out to be more ambitious then I had expected- both technically and conceptually.  After looking at several data vis projects, I wanted to try something that was a bit less “data vis”.  I used the idea of being “lost at sea” as an experience by having the user scroll around to find the flower memorials floating in the space.  When the mouse is over a flower, a map and information appears that give you information about the incident that occurred in that location.  I am still unsure about how I feel about the overall experience, but am interested in further pursuing alternative ways of showing information.

While coding, I came across multiple technical issues that I had to resolve.. I created several functions and objects for this project and had to deal with placement and mapping things across the screen.  It felt great to be able to put together different things I learned throughout the semester and be comfortable with p5js to create something a little more elaborate.  I would be interested in continuing working with programming to see how to further integrate it into my practice.


Looking Outwards – Final Project

Two projects I am looking at that relates to my project include Periscopic’s Working America and Nadeem Haidary’s State of the Union.  In both they have different approaches to looking at U.S. demographics over time and displaying information.


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In the Working America visualization from 2011, Periscopic looked at the job landscape of the US over the past 50 years.  The user can sort the “workers” (represented by little bodies) by Sector, Gender and Age, while using the scroll bar on the bottom to see how the data changes over time.   This chart is very clear and there are little informative pop-ups that give you additional information about the chart.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.30.29 PMIn State of the Union, Haidary chooses a more abstract approach, using the the U.S. flag as the chart where the stars and stripes serve as visualizations for different factors on the health of the country, such as GDP, life expectancy or divorce rate.

While the former project is more informative and clear, the latter project is a more conceptual and interesting approach to representing complex data.  By taking a familiar object, such as the flag, and re-designing so it reflects a dynamic data set makes it a visually compelling piece.  I would like my final project to be able to reflect the information I am gathering in a way that is meaningful to the experience of immigration.



Final Project Proposal

For my final project I want to create an interactive piece regarding the bureaucratic nature of becoming a citizen of the U.S.  I have been reading “The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy” by David Graeber about the appeals / disillusions of red tape.  While reading this, I’ve been thinking about current topics of immigration regarding the U.S. – with Syrian refugees entering the country, and migrants from South America, and even my own parents’ experience of moving to the U.S. from Taiwan.   I would like the piece to be a cross between mapping and providing information and also highlighting the staggering amount of bureaucracy and waiting involved in becoming a citizen.  In terms of aesthetics, I would like to incorporate (and satirize) the rather confusing nature and lack of clarity in government forms.

I would like to experiment using openFrameworks, or another programming language I haven’t used yet.

Project 10 Creature

For this project I was inspired by eukaryotic organisms, in particular slime mold. In this sketch, the initial mold starts off small and kind of hidden in the dirt. They only grow when the spotlight is on them and shrink back when the light is away. When they grow to a certain size, they erupt and start as a small mold again. For the shapes of mold, I used a noise function to draw their shapes — something that I attempted to do in my generative landscape project for the potholes. I wanted the mold to be spherical, but be slightly deformed and the noise function was great for that.

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Looking Outwards – 10

First off – I really appreciate this as a topic for the Looking Outwards post.  Especially in an environment like CMU, I think it’s important we have ask questions and have dialogue about diversity and gender equity in tech fields.

For this post I chose to focus on Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s work, specifically her work with recreating portraits of people based on DNA samples.   She first started creating these portraits with the project Stranger Visions .  This process uses forensic phenotyping and seeks to question uses of biological surveillance.  These portraits were then 3D printed in color.   Beyond this project, she also critiques how crime technology is based on biases, seen through her article “Sci Fi Crime Drama with a Strong Black Lead”.  I’m particularly interested in this sentence from the article:

“We tend to look at technical systems as neutral black boxes, but if you open them up and look at the component parts, you find that they reflect the assumptions and motivations of their designers. ”

This is especially poignant as I am learning to write code and learning about how technologies are created.   We are humans with a unique set of personal experiences that we bring to our work and what we create.  Oftentimes we gloss over subjects such as race, class and gender because they can be hard subjects to talk about. But if we choose to ignore these elements, we can create unjust systems, such as using DNA surveillance to reiterate stereotypes of criminals.

Project 09 – Composition

In this project I wanted to use the turtle graphics to map out how I get to school.
The first image below is the actual route mapped out using the usual turtle commands. This was interesting to do – thinking of all the turns I make and how I can think about my route as a turtle. However, I wanted to play around with the route and play on the idea of how sometimes your day can take you all over town so I added some randomness into the program. Each time, the destination is set at school, but the route in between can change pretty drastically.

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Project 08 – Computational Portrait

For this project I took inspiration from the photos taken by the Viking I orbiter in 1976.   The spacecraft captured images from the Cydonia region of Mars and showed what seemed to be “faces”.  Years later  higher quality photos revealed the face to be just an optical illusion.  However, the initial photos sparked a lot of speculation regarding life on Mars, a question that continues to this day with the findings of water on the surface.   Before I came to CMU, I worked at a science museum and we had this photo booth in the space exhibit where you could take a photo of yourself on the moon.  Basically a computer took a picture of you in front of a green screen and keyed it into a lunar landscape.  This project is a departure from this concept, in which your likeliness (based on a photo) could be computationally rendered into a face-like crater on the surface of Mars.


Below is one version of it:

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Looking Outwards 08

For this Looking Outwards “Looking Outwards” edition, I looked at Maggie’s post for #5 on Data Visualization.  The project was Nathan Yau’s Bars vs. Grocery Stores where he created maps of bars vs. grocery stores in the U.S. and in Europe.  I enjoyed Maggie’s analysis of the validity of the data that Nathan used in his work, because what is a data visualization project if the data used is not accurate? (which upon further thinking, may be an interesting concept to explore) It’s interesting to see the data mapped out nationally to see the correlations between geography and these spaces, where we can make associations based on location and needs/wants of different areas based on immigration.  More bars in Milwaukee due to a high German population and strong local beer culture?  However, I think this project would be even more interesting (and useful on a public health level) if it also used income level as a variable.  Food deserts are unfortunately common in many cities among low income level populations and by being able to identify those geographic factors would be helpful for residents to see the disparities in their communities, along with policy makers to enact change.  In Baltimore, the Center for a Livable Future, part of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, publishes a food desert map  that shows food deserts as areas where residents do not live within walking distance to a grocery store.  Though well researched, the findings could be presented in a way that is easier to read and visually interesting.


Project 07 – Looking Outward

Ingrid Burrington is one of the speakers at Eyeo who’s work I really admire. She is NYC based and I think she was also a few years ahead of me when I was an undergrad at MICA in Baltimore, MD. She has an interesting way of making connections between the virtual and physical in the form of maps and guides. Part of what makes her work really intriguing is that she will take complex concepts, do a lot of thorough research, and present the data in really beautiful ways. For example, in “Measuring the Impact of a Fare Hike”, data is collected from multiple sources regarding average MTA ridership and presented in an interactive map that shows the relationship between a fare hike vs. income of local residents. Another project that she made was “Networks of New York: an Internet Infrastructure Field Guide” that looks at different markers in an urban environment and what they signify.


Eyeo 2015 – Ingrid Burrington from Eyeo Festival // INSTINT on Vimeo.

Project 07 – Generative Landscape

For this project I made a generative landscape of the street. I usually ride my bike and notice a lot of things on the road surface. The objects I chose to include are rocks, potholes, manholes and very occasionally : money! It was interesting to play with the transparencies and layering to get some depth in the image, such as creating the texture on the manhole. This process can be super tedious though and at some point you just gotta walk away.

This project was a lot of fun though I did run into some issues that I hope to resolve in the future. I would like to incorporate the noise function into the pothole, along with figure out the for loops for generating the rocks.

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