Three Dimensions Visualization | Facing data |

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by Andres Burbano | 2009 | Visualization Class | Media Arts and Technology | University of California Santa Barbara |


The amazing human ability to get information from faces have been influential to certain visualizations -like Chernoff faces - which explore that perceptual condition to represent data or information. In general the visualizations using faces work with drawings, in  "Facing data" the main component is to explore faces to represent information but using photography. Additionally to read the images in an appropriate fashion the OPENGL  three dimensional space offers us tools to see using zoom-in and zoom-out. The old techniques of  chiaroscuro were also a useful tool to determine the final look and feel of the project.

Finally a component of physical interaction -using wiring- is presented as a way to interact with the application.

Important elements found

Represent data with faces have clear limitations when working with many elements, but for certain projects where data involves information about people, it can be a good way of "including" the people on the representation.

The element of humor also appears, I dont have a clear explanation, but must of the people smile or even laugh when they see the visualization using photorealistic faces.

Photo process


Alejandro_01 Alejandro_02 Alejandro_03 Alejandro_01


Bianca_01 Bianca_02 Bianca_03 Bianca_04


"Chernoff faces display multivariate data in the shape of a human face. The individual parts, such as eyes, ears, mouth and nose represent values of the variables by their shape, size, placement and orientation. The idea behind using faces is that humans easily recognize faces and notice small changes without difficulty. Chernoff faces handle each variable differently. Because the features of the faces vary in perceived importance, the way in which variables are mapped to the features should be carefully chosen (eye size and eyebrow-slant have been found important"

A multivariate map using Chernoff faces:


"There are other multivariate map designs that are able to convey enormous amounts of information. The Chernoff face and the polygonal glyph (Figure 6.9) represent two of the more imaginative uses of symbolization in cartography. Unfortunately, the production of such maps is quite complex. Because of this complexity and a relatively limited applicability, Chernoff faces and polygonal glyphs are not symbolizations that are supported by ArcView. An ambitious programmer could probably develop scripts to generate maps of this type."

Rembrandt and the Technique of Chiaroscuro

"The use of chiaroscuro to achieve a dramatic intensification of action or atmospheric mood is something that Rembrandt learned from his study of da Vinci and Caravaggio. By placing the point of greatest illumination on a central, active figure, and simultaneously muting elements of the background, Rembrandt and his Italian predecessors could focus the viewer's attention onto a specific action in a manner similar to the way in which stage-lighting functions in the theater. Furthermore, Rembrandt's calculated manipulation of light and shadow frequently creates atmospheric moods surrounding his figures, thereby imbuing them with a sense of glowing enthusiasm, or (more often) a sense of gloom and mystery"

Rembrandt - Selfportrait.

Wiring -physical interaction-

"Wiring is an open source programming environment and electronics i/o board for exploring the electronic arts, tangible media, teaching and learning computer programming and prototyping with electronics. It illustrates the concept of programming with electronics and the physical realm of hardware control which are necessary to explore physical interaction design and tangible media aspect".

Original Sketch


Source code: final_project_base_04 Transaction TransactionUtils

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