Analysis – Audio Visualization

Based on my understanding of the space and its audience, and interactive displays, I have decided to focus on audio visualization, and synergy between audio and visual media, as the concept for my final piece.

As the space is in a university, the primary demographic moving through the Weymouth house foyer is media students, likely to take an interest in digital art and electronic music themes. My goal is to create a piece which will draw their attention and is not overly complex, but still allows users to have interaction with a visual output through audio.

Kosara (2008) describes key characteristics of visualization: “the visual must be the primary means of communication”, and “the most important criteria is that the visualization must provide a way to learn something about the data … there must be at least some relevant aspects of the data that can be read. The visualization must also be recognizable as one and not pretend to be something else”. These will be factors to consider when developing my project, a strong relationship between the audio and the visual elements of my piece, and that the interaction between the two is clearly recognizable to the user.

Music visualization is often made vivid and artistic in correlation to the audio input. Several examples gathered on the blog Visual Complexity (2010) are shown below:

“The Shape of Song” by Martin Wattenberg
“Narratives 2.0” by Matthias Dittrich

My work will likely not amount to the above level of complexity, however they are examples of the beautiful results that can be achieved through visualizing audio. With the correct setup and design, even a simple audio input such as speech should be able to produce a nice effect, made doubly satisfying by the synergy between audio and visual elements of the piece – audiovisual pieces of media are effective as the two different sensory outputs compliment and enhance each other. The video below is an example of a physical audiovisual installation by media group AntiVJ, and exemplifies why I am interested in this concept:

The key to making my project successful will be to combine this concept with interactivity, allowing users direct control over the audio input and therefore the visuals on the screen. Synergy between audible and visual elements is already satisfying, giving a user control over it too should amount to an engaging interactive display.



Kosara, R., 2008. What is Visualization? A definition. eagereyes [online]. Available from:

Lima, M., 2010. Music Visualization: Beautiful Tools to “See” Sound. Visual Complexity [online]. Available from:

Wattenberg, M., The Shape of Song [online]. Available from:

Dittrich, M., Narratives 2.0 [online]. Available from:

AntiVJ, 2013. The Ark. AntiVJ [online]. Available from:

London Science Museum Visit – “Who Am I”? Exhibit

Today our course made a visit to the London Science Museum, specifically to observe the latest interactive media installations there.

On one level of the museum was an area named “Who Am I?” which explored individuality and the sense of self through several interactive “tests” and visual installations that gave a personalized response, making each user’s experience truly unique.

This gallery takes the personalization of interactive media to a whole new level, making interactive pieces with a focus entirely on the user. The gallery uses cameras in a variety of ways – from drawing the silhouette of the user as they walk in to the entrance (shown at the start of the video) to taking an image of the user’s eye on one particular screen. Following this, the user can answer a series of questions about their individuality, and having completed this will be anonymously “showcased” on the far side of the exhibit, a silhouette generated of circles and showing the answers that the user input.

Exploring this gallery in the museum drew my attention to the way user interactivity is related with the sense of identity. Media pieces which rely on user input to be complete and functional make the user a part of the experience, splitting their attention – just as the user focuses on the media narrative and experience, there is also a degree of attention paid to the self and the role that the user plays in everything. “Who Am I?” made this far more apparent than other interactive media, as it is literally an exhibit about the self drawing your attention inward from the get go. This could strengthen one’s sense of identity as they have an active role to play in a piece of media, or draw it in to question as the user considers their self from a third person perspective, asking questions and making decisions they never normally would have to.



Analysis – Approaches to Interactive Data Visualization

With the proliferation of digital technology in recent years, there are now many ways users can interact and input data. The traditional mouse and keyboard forms of input are still prevalent, but are now alongside touchscreens, motion tracking, audio input, and more. Something to consider when iterating and moving my project forward will be how exactly the user should interact with the work to get a response. This post will show and discuss some examples of innovative forms of interaction I have discovered through research. is a crowd-sourced music video, providing the user with a set of instructions to follow in conjunction with previous recordings of other users’ cursors on the screen. Through the simple and traditional form of mouse input, a continually generative music video has been created as users make a permanent mark on it – adding their own recording of their input each time. Some instructions additionally apply to a sense of a group, such as “make a mask” over someone’s face – the user has to respond to what previous users did too, creating a unique experience for each user.

All pointers are recorded from other users' sessions.
All pointers are recorded from other users’ sessions.

The below video is of an innovative digital art installation, a wall of LED’s which reacts to water. This form of interacting with technology blurs the line between the digital and the physical, as the response on the screen is much like throwing paint or other liquid over a wall, but it is still a digitized response to an otherwise non-technological user input that they perform physically.

These are just two examples of imaginative ways digital designers have experimented with user control and input in recent years. The next step for my project will be to consider how I want the audience to interact with and control my piece of data visualization.



Fourneau, A., 2012. Water Light Graffiti. [online]. Available from:

Moniker, 2013. Do Not Touch [online]. Available from:

Requirements Gathering & Analysis – The Space

Our group has now displayed our finalized posters in the foyer to study the space and how the audience reacts to visual media within it.

The foyer is shown below in thumbnail images:

IMAG0012   IMAG0010   IMAG0009   IMAG0008

Our poster was displayed on the way in, directly in front of the audience as they enter the space:20141016_121420

Studying the behavior of people in the space and their reaction to our visual media proved useful. Students and lecturers simply passing through would often not pay much attention to the media in the area, however people who were for example, having coffee or discussing group work on the tables and sofa’s in the space would take the time to notice and examine media in the area in greater detail – especially if they were nearer it.  The time of day also has a notable effect on the business of the area, with more people passing through on their way to lectures or seminars generally on the hour, while the rest of the time the area is less populated but people tend to stay in the vicinity longer.

Our final project will be displayed on HD television screens in the foyer shown in the earlier images, being animated and readily apparent to anyone passing through or staying in the area. This should make involving and engaging the users easier when displaying our final projects, so I now have a good idea of how many people will be interested in my final work and will likely involve themselves in the testing process.