Tag: data

Design Informatics Pavilion Facelift

Pavilion part of the Edinburgh Art Festival and the Fringe with the Future Play Festival.
Freelance for Design Informatics
Edinburgh, Scotland 2017
In 2016, The Design Informatics Pavilion was designed by Biomorphis, an Edinburgh-based architecture practice led by Pierre Forissier. Interested in how digital technology can be efficiently used to design an affordable modular structure, Biomorphis developed an algorithm to test and generate different cellular divisions to form a self supporting lightweight building envelope. For this 2017 edition I have been employed to give it a facelift, inspired by the 70 years anniversary of the Edinburgh Festivals starting from the launch of the first festivals in 1947 to 2017,  by the Design Informatics research topics and data from Edinburgh.

Pictures of the Pavilion by YUXI LIU

The graphs painted on the pavilion give the local context in which the festivals and Design informatics are taking place: the top line graph represents rainfall in Edinburgh in August in 5 year periods between 1947-2017. The bottom of the pavilion represents the elevations of Edinburgh during a walk through the cities most popular venues so starting on George Street and going to the Castle, the Meadows, The pleasance etc.

Then, the idea was to situate the history of the festivals in an international context, represented by technological breakthrough: each panel of the pavilion represents 5 years, creating a time line where icons (vinyls on acrylic) representing carefully chosen innovations, as well as some of Edinburgh festivals. Moreover, it established a link to Design Informatics, where students are trained and researcher worked on developing tomorrow innovations.

The pavilion become a time travel vessel: the outside is displaying the past of innovations, leading to the inside with the exhibition where you can imagine what the future might look like.

To realise this project, I worked in collaboration with Sigrid Schmeisser, to designed the icons. She realised the exhibition graphics, panels and brochure.


More informations in the report produced along the process.

The Dominoes have been designed as a concept of a tangible interface for biologists to sketch DNA constructs. The interface consists of a series of pieces representing different DNA parts, using Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL).
By manipulating these pieces and snapping them together biologists can sketch DNA sequences. Then, the aim of this project would be to be able be transferred into Genetic Constructor (Autodesk CAD tool for DNA design) to insert the sequences into the sketch blocks and test the validity of their design.
It could then be send to be assembled by Edinburgh Genome Foundry (EGF), a facility at the University of Edinburgh that offers a unique robotic platform to synthesise DNA.

I have conducted a series of interview with biologist to determine what are the needs: how do they currently design DNA, how they would use them, where, when, what symbols or shape they are using most, do they need different kit depending the organism they are working with (yeast, mammalian cells, plants…) …
It also allowed me to discuss their projects to determine what could be potential future needs. I am currently in the process of designing the fist set of prototype to be tested in different labs at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition, during these interviews, we discussed how they would communicate the DNA design process to the general public: how to keep the process simple but accurate and what could be an interesting interaction to understand the principles of synthetic biology. It resulted in another project ‘Tales of Synthetic Biology’ presented Here.

From these interviews I have designed a kit of general blocs and 3 different options for the EMMA kit.

Design – general blocs
  • Use of 5 different colours for the coding sequence (promoter – CDS – terminator) to visualise 1 transcription unit. It will be useful when one transcription unit is will be to be express in the bacteria for the duplication (antibiotic resistance for example) and others will be expressed in the plant/yeast…
  • Blank pieces with directional arrow for projects where the direction is crucial at the early design stage.
  • Larger pieces for Transcription Unit (containing promoter – CDS – terminator) for high level sketch.
  • Small pieces for localisation signal, tag… to annotate some aspect inside a block
  • Two different proposals to visualise the strength of a promoter.
  • Two special set to design sequences for Golden Gate of Gibson assembly, in-order to determine the ending and connecting sequence of the blocks.
  • Each type of block is done with a speci c colour + a symbol to give the maximum visual markers, helping to design a sequence.
Design – EMMA kit

One kit where the colours correspond to type of the blocks, one where they correspond to position of the blocks and finally to the type of the blocks and they are numbered for the position.


I created a poster for James McCallum, who broke the record for riding the North Coast 500 non-stop, back in June. It’s a 516 mile route which takes you round the very north of scotland starting and stopping in Inverness. He broke the record by 7 hours. He completed the ride in under 31 hours spending only just under 29 hours in the saddle, riding through the night, raising over £15000 in the process in aid of thrombosis UK (more about the exploit here).

I have been commissioned to create a print to commemorate this achievement and using the huge amount of data collected along the way (power numbers, speed, gradient’s etc…). Ultimately they wanted “something that looks visually simple, that tells the story of an epic journey but that when you stare a little bit longer there is some hidden detail” Gareth Edwards.

I used the route codified with colour gradient corresponding to the average speed speed, almost like a heat map. Along the route I symbolised the elevation and the time stamps and time of the day, while using grey scale on the route to represent when he rode in darkness. I used the colours scheme from their promotional website Ride for Charlene.



I created this project, in collaboration with PhD Hadi Mehrpouya, as the final piece of my master thesis.

Please have a look at our WEBSITE to have more informations about the project.
Everyday we get bombarded with data and information from all over the world. Often we feel helpless about our abilities to do things while being trapped in the dilemma of knowing the consequences of our consumptions and choices. Playing on these feelings, SAAD, from Afrikaans meaning Seed, is visualising human deaths as a direct and indirect result of the mining industry and conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), used to build smart-phones and computers. The project is constructed on different layers which all recall the idea of being on the edge, the border between life and death, and emphasise the complexity of nothing being either totally positive or negative. SAAD is composed of two complementary installations: a seed dispenser and a plant, visualising deaths due to the mining industry in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It aims to push the reflexion of the responsibility Western consumer users of smartphones and computers have towards these workers. It plays on the feeling of being helpless towards the different issues our societies are facing. The project is constructed on different layers which all recall the idea of being on the edge, the border between life and death, and emphasise the complexity of nothing being either totally positive or negative. It aims to symbolise the complexity of today’s world and the difficulty to position the self and the ethic in it. We choose to focus on the partial perspective we have of our electronic devices nowadays, as it is something most Europeans possessed and use everyday without questioning the impact it can have on other human beings and the natural environment.

Unruly Pitch

Tomorrow is the opening of the exhibition Out Of Play in the National Football Museum in Manchester. One of the works exhibited will be ‘Unruly Pitch’, a collaborative project which I was invited to be part of  with Jen Southern, Prof. Chris Speed and Chris Barker.

This project aimed to track and visualise the movement of six players in the annual Uppies and Downies mass football game in Workington. One of the last remaining football games of its kind, the match is played throughout the town centre in an unpredictable game without rules. Using small GPS devices to track the movement of 6 players (only 5 recorded GPS data), the visualisations will reveal some aspects of the game and in particular the irregularity of the pitch.


The final project is composed of 3 different pieces. A printed ‘map’, a replica of the ball engraved with the tracks, and a video drawing the game dynamically with footage in the background. Each of the three pieces convey a different dimension of the game. The map, recalling survey maps, is intend to describe the ‘pitch’. It is a visualisation of the ‘objective data’. Moreover, it gives a reflection of the game from the players internal point of view thanks to the ‘hidden’ interview based text. The video gives an immersive and dynamic vision of the action. However it is also an outside point a view as it is filmed not by a player but a spectator. The ball represents the symbolic aspect of the game, perceived as the ‘Graal’ by the players.

This game could be described as a tactical, organized chaos. Everyone knows in which team everyone they are, even if there is no visual distinction; they have ‘secret’ tactics (like key words, touch codes…) to communicate. It is all about the group and how they are going to move together to get the ball on one or the other side of the town. Jen asked an interesting question regarding this during one of our discussions: how is moving together different to moving individually? The tools used were GPS watches and the result is individual tracks; they are ‘so much about the individual and often visualised as an individual trajectory’ (Jen’s words). What we wanted to convey and study with this work wasn’t the individual interpretation of GPS signals, but how they work in relation to each other. There is something quite unusual with this game as it is both about groups and individuals – as they all play for the same goal but at the end only one player can throw the ball and can keep it as memory of the victory.

Finally another interesting element of the game we talked about during the project was the evolution of the pitch in relation with the modification of the geography of the town and how it modified the game. Some fields are now a construction site, buildings have been demolished or constructed… And because the town, or even further (as there is no rule and no boundaries defined) can be used by the players with no limits. A parallel study of the evolution of the game and the geography of the town could be very interesting.

Here are the 3 elements of the final work. Soon the pictures of the exhibition itself.


FINAL copy


The leaking hourglass

I started thinking about our survival needs, from what came the important question: why are we not more careful on what we do on the planet, when it is what offer us the possibility to live?

Our survival needs are:
– nutriment
– oxygen
– water
– appropriate atmospheric pressure

We can survive:
– 3 min without air
– 3 hours without a regulated body temperature
– 3 days without water
– 3 weeks without food

The one I am the most interested in is the water. Maybe because it is my favourite element to be in and my favourite drink 🙂
Our body is composed between 60% and 80% of water. It (water) provides the environment necessary for life.

A sandglass is meant to give the time like it is indefinite, but what if it was leaking ?

I am thinking to make one with water. The amount of water inside would be equivalent on the volume available on earth/per person, and would leak in accordance of the diminishing of the resource.


Data to sound & New turntable

Python doing music

Tania asked her boyfriend Aldo to help us with transforming our raw sound into something more musical. He found a great music synthesizer made in python by a guy called Martin C. Doege
He used a 3D model file we gave him: .stl file to .wav (via importing raw data in Audacity).

This is the original sound file:

What he did is (quote him form his blog): “the basic idea was to read the wav file, get the data, which is an array of numbers with lots of precision. That particular wav file (the one Tania gave me), it ranges from -1 to 1, and it was 1519616 on length. So, the idea was to map those values, and the changed them to notes, and then create a synthesizer sound file from it. Of course there is more music science behind it, but me, being not a music scientist I fixed the octaves, and with that the time changed…”

It gives this file:

The code is this:
Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 16.17.21
We also received the first of the 4 turntables we will use for our installation. It is working perfectly and we have now to find some speakers in order to make the installation working.

What is an object ?

Looking at the meaning of the word ‘objects’

Dictionary: object

1 a material thing that can be seen and touched: he was dragging a large object | small objects such as shells.

• Philosophy a thing external to the thinking mind or subject.

2 a person or thing to which a specified action or feeling is directed: disease became the object of investigation | he hated being the object of public attention.

• a goal or purpose: the Institute was opened with the object of promoting scientific study.

3 Grammar a noun or noun phrase governed by an active transitive verb or by a preposition. in Gaelic the word order is verb, subject, object.

4 Computing a data construct that provides a description of anything known to a computer (such as a processor or a piece of code) and defines its method of operation. the interface treats most items, including cells, graphs, and buttons, as objects.

Thesaurus: object

noun |(stress on the first syllable)|

1 wooden objects: thing, article, item, piece, device, gadget, entity, body; informal thingamajig, thingamabob, thingummy, whatsit, whatchamacallit, what-d’you-call-it, thingy; Brit. informal doodah, doobry, gubbins; N. Amer. informal doodad, doohickey, doojigger; N. Amer. & S. African informal dingus. ANTONYMS abstract idea, notion.

2 he became the object of fierce criticism: target, butt, focus, recipient, victim.

3 the Institute was opened with the object of promoting scientific study: purpose, objective, aim, goal, target, end, end in view, plan, object of the exercise; ambition, design, intent, intention, idea, point.

Correlation between Physical Object & Object in Computing

What Makes an Object?

It is easier to list things that are objects than to list things that are not objects. Just to talk about something seems to make it an object, somehow. René Descartes (the 17th century philosopher) observed that humans view the world in object-oriented terms. The human brain wants to think about objects, and our thoughts and memories are organized into objects and their relationships. Perhaps non-human brains work differently.

One of the ideas of object-oriented software is to organize software in a way that matches the thinking style of our object-oriented brains. Instead of machine instructions that change bit patterns in main storage, we want “things” that “do something.” Of course, at the machine level nothing has changed—bit patterns are being manipulated by machine instructions. But we don’t have to think that way.

  • An object is made of tangible material (the pen is made of plastic, metal, ink).
  • An object holds together as a single whole (the whole pen, not a fog).
  • An object has properties (the color of the pen, where it is, how thick it writes…).
  • An object can do things and can have things done to it.

Characteristics of Objects

The first item in this list is too restrictive. For example, you can think of your bank account as an object, but it is not made of material. (Although you and the bank may use paper and other material in keeping track of your account, your account exists independently of this material.) Although it is not material, your account has properties (a balance, an interest rate, an owner) and you can do things to it (deposit money, cancel it) and it can do things (charge for transactions, accumulate interest).

The last three items on the list seem clear enough. In fact, they have names:

  • An object has identity (each object is a distinct individual).
  • An object has state (it has various properties, which might change).
  • An object has behavior (it can do things and can have things done to it).

This is a somewhat ordinary description of what an object is like. (This list comes from the book Object-oriented Analysis and Design, by Grady Booch, Addison-Wesley, 1994.) Do not be surprised if other notes and books have a different list. When you start writing object-oriented software you will find that this list will help you decide what your objects should be.

Software Objects

Many programs are written to do things that are concerned with the real world. It is convenient to have “software objects” that are similar to “real world objects”. This makes the program and what it does easier to think about. Software objects have identity, state, and behavior just as do real world objects. Of course, software objects exist entirely within a computer system and don’t directly interact with real world objects.

Software Objects as Memory

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that memory (both main memory and secondary memory) is what a computer is about. The rest of the electronics—the processor chip, the buses, the power supply, the keyboard, the video card and so on—exist only to work on memory and to show what it contains. So what else could a software object be but a chunk of memory?

(Actually, it is not quite correct to claim that a software object is a “chunk” of memory. A software object is somewhat like a bank account—its existence is spread out and does not correspond one-to-one with any particular piece of material. But for now it is convenient and reasonably accurate to think of a software object as a chunk of memory.)

Objects (real world and software) have identity, state, and behavior.

Software objects have identity. Each is a distinct chunk of memory. (Just like a yellow tennis ball, each software object is a distinct individual even though it may look nearly the same as other objects of the same type.)

Software objects have state. Some of the memory that makes up a software object is used for variables which contain values. These values are the state of the object.

Software objects have behavior. Some of the memory that makes up a software object contains programs (called methods) that enable the object to “do things”. The object does something when one of its method runs.

Picture of an Object

In terms of object-oriented programming, a von Neumann computer uses general purpose memory to store both the state and behavior of objects. It is interesting that an idea from the 1940’s is still important.

A software object consists of both variables (state information) and methods (recipes for behavior). In the picture, the yellow bricks represent bytes of memory out of which the object is built. This object has some variables, location, color, and size, and has some methods that control its behavior.

In object-oriented programming, the programmer uses a programming language (such as Java) to describe various objects. When the program is run (after being compiled) the objects are created (out of main storage) and they start “doing things” by running their methods.

The methods must execute in the correct order. For an application, the first method to run is the method named main(). There should be only one method named main() in an application. In a small application, main() might do by itself all the computation that needs to be done. In a larger application, main() will create objects and use their methods.


Projects transforming data into sound/music

Spider silk makes music at MIT

with few tones you can play them and realise is it a piece of music, but if you play individual tones it doesn’t mean anything
combination – control – structure – in space and time
they create there own music to reflect some materials
use the molecular system to create the music



Artist Lisa Park manipulates water with her mind

Intersting to get direction on how interprete data
EEG headset to monitor the delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves of her brain as well as eye movements and transformed the resulting data with specialized software into sound waves.



Traces by James Alliban

Traces is an exploring art piece of motion, which makes the audience both the performer and the audio-visual composer of this interactive installation. The interaction makes the piece a sort of crowd-sourced performance artwork in which people’s movement creates a role reversal of the traditional dynamic of artist as performer and audience as observer. The user’s movements are captured as data and translated in real time into colourful particles and immersive sounds by David Kamp.



Music from very short programs

Very short C programs and Javascript expressions generating musical output. This is the third video in the series.



Sound garden

Sound Garden engages the viewer/participant in the familiar extended mediation device of audio amplification through the use of microphones and multiple speaker arrays. The participants and observers, however, discover that their interactions transform the invisible motion of sound into visible form.
A Pure data program was used to shift the pitch of audio input to sub audible levels enabling the speakers to move in response to the participants interactions, bringing a visible form to the physical presence of their sound in the environment.




Higgs boson data turned into music at CERN

Seven physicists from CERN created a composition based on measurements from inside the Large Hadron Collider the results were surprisingly traditional, with even a hint of baroque. The scientists are shown playing harps and violins beside the huge particle accelerator in which the Higgs boson was discovered last year.
The music is based on the translation of scientific data collected by the four main Large Hadron Collider experiments in a process known as sonification.
Sonfication works by assigning a musical note to each measurement created by experiments, so that the same data is presented as a musical score.




This artwork responds to the current size and timing of the waves of the closet ocean of its current location. Every half hour the most current data from the closet ocean buoy station is downloaded. Custom software uses the current wave height and dominant wave period data from the buoy and transforms that information into a low frequency sound wave. As the size and timing of the waves in the ocean change so does the frequency of the sound waves produced by the software. These sound waves shake a bowl of water sitting on top of a speaker. This shaking produces wave patterns in the bowl that are captured by a video camera modified by the software and projected onto a wall. As the waves in the ocean change size and frequency the waves in the bowl will also change. This results in continuous variations of the shapes and patterns that one sees and hears which also reflects the constant changing conditions of the ocean.



Video and Sound Help Turn Astronomical Data into Art





Musical Sculptures Translate Weather Data Into Art

Visualizations of music, creative takes on notation, and physical data art are all running fixations at Brain Pickings. Naturally, the work of Boston-based artist Nathalie Miebach, one of this year’s crop of extraordinary TED Global Fellows, is an instant favorite. Miebach translates weather and climate change data from cities into musical scores, which she then translates into vibrant, whimsical sculptures and uses them as the basis for collaboration with musicians across a wide spectrum of styles and genres.
“Musical notation allows me a more nuanced way of translating information without compromising it. She uses these scores to collaborate with musicians across a wide spectrum of styles and genres.” ~ Nathalie Miebach