Data that feels gravity. by Volker Schweisfurth

Here are data that feel gravity.

This presented physical object offers "statistics at your fingertips". Such objects make data more exciting that are worthwhile to be remembered and circulated.

Object: It represents 130 countries with their key economic data, grouped by continents (left: The America´s, middle: Europe (background) and Africa, right: Asia). From top, you see the Gross National Income sizes (GNI, PPP (current international $)) of the different countries; take this as the countries´potentials. From the side, you see the blocks´ heights- they show the difficulty ranking in realising investments. A short block is a small country with difficult investment conditions. On the 3D printed models´ upper surfaces I put graphic clips that show the countries´ future population pyramids for year 2030 and in some cases also for 2050. The combination of the three incorporated types of information ( economy, investment hurdles, future population ) delivers a vivid narrative of the nations´ situation and fate.

Context: The physical representation of data has 7000 years of tradition. The Sumerians used pieces of clay to represent units of measure; native Micronesians made physical visualizations that showed ocean swell patterns to facilitate canoe navigation… I want to show that in our digital age, the cultural technique to create tangible “data landscapes” can be recharged with the help of 3D printing.
It is also important to underline that the amount and volatility of strategic data that is constantly disseminated digitally invites new hybrid forms, i.e.more durable supplements, also to establish new narratives.

Claim: Let me emphasise that physical data modeling as a form of “slow” and sustainable information must not left to architects and urban planners. Data modeling can offer insights and additional sensory values (touch them, hand them round, watch them at eye level, feel the surface haptics) or, as Robert Polidori, Canadian photographer mentioned “Digital data is made to forget, analogue is made to remember”.

Data sources: World Bank (World Development Indicators 2014 and Doing Business 2013). Population graphic clips: /

Volker Schweisfurth, June 2, 2017

Text für Kantar Award 2017.docx