Sculpting Visualization

Towards a Practice and Theory of 3D Scientific Visualizations
using Physical Objects and Augmented Reality

About Sculpting Visualization

Sculpting Visualization is a research project that brings art and design theory and practice to visualization. Drawing on the expertise of a multidisciplinary team, Sculpting Visualization describes an ethos, a set of technical tools and interfaces, and resources to advance data visualization via 3D, augmented reality, virtual reality, and data physicalization technology.

Learn more about Sculpting Visualization and the two main thrusts of our research center on Artifact Based Rendering and Augmented Reality and Data Physicalization.

Our Research

Artifact Based Rendering

Artifact Based Rendering (ABR) is a framework that includes tools and processes to enable digital visualizations to incorporate physical media. Created with artists and designers in mind, ABR is a technical foundation and the input channel for Sculpting Visualization’s project to enrich the visual vocabulary of scientific visualization through hand-crafted or naturally ocurring objects. ABR bridges key barriers to incorporating artists and designers on to visualization teams by enabling them to contribute their visual expertise without having to spend months learning software tools that currently limit the creative possibilities for their work.

Augmented Reality + Data Physicalization

Our work with augmented reality (AR) and physicalization blends a dynamic layer of digital content with physical visualizations. Data physicalizations are a detailed, tangible way to visualize data which engage both the visual and tactile senses. Physicalizations allow us to use the knowledge and context of the real world to interpret data, and allow for collaboration between stakeholders in a visualization. However, since physicalizations are constrained by the physical world, these data representations are often static.

Close Reading as a Method for Evaluating Visualizations

In the course of iterating on and measuring the success of visualizations created under the aegis of SculptingVis, we realized that traditional methods of evaluation could not fully account for our goals and research questions. While task-based forms of evaluation can tell us important information about some of the ways that users interact with a visualization, they cannot tell us whether or not visualizations are effective in their abilities to elicit qualities like depth of thought or pleasure that are difficult to measure quantitatively.