List of Active Physical Visualizations

A refactored version of this list will be online soon, and updated with many more entries. Follow us on twitter to be notified!

This page is about active (electronics included) physical visualizations. For passive physical visualizations, see PassivePhysicalVisualizations. New entries are at the bottom of this page.

Data Morphoses

DataMorphose is an interactive installation which projects data into real space and visualizes it three-dimensionally. Information is represented by spanned and moving sails directly in the room.

Source: Christiane Keller (2009).

Added by Samuel.


Pulse is a live-visualization of recent emotional expressions, written on private weblog communities like

Source: Markus Kison (2009).

Added by Samuel.

Virtual gravity

Virtual gravity is an interface between digital and analog world. With the aid of analog carriers, virtual terms can be taken up and transported from a loading screen to an analog scale. The importance and popularity of these terms (data base: Google Insights for Search), outputted as a virtual weight, can be weighed physically and compared. Therefore impalpable, digital data get an actual physical existence and become a sensually tangible experience.

Source: silkehilsing (2010) via fubiz

Added by Samuel.

Dynamic Bar Chart

Source: Physical Interaction Lab (2007)

Added by Pierre.

Another Dynamic Bar Chart

Still a prototype.


Added by Pierre.

Yet Another Dynamic Bar Chart

Not sure it's been actually built.

Source: Hampus Edström (2010).

Added by Pierre.


2012 Yeosu EXPO HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP created by media artist group : Jonpasang

Added by Yvonne.

Data Sculpture Shows Twitter Reactions To London 2012 Olympic Games

"The core of the install­a­tion is a phys­ical data sculp­ture consisting of 17 objects, each repres­enting all Tweets we have collected during one day of the Olympics. Mapped onto this phys­ical sculp­ture we have then projected indi­vidual heat maps for the most inter­esting themes we have iden­ti­fied while observing emoto during the Games. Users were able to navigate through these themes using an inter­active controller and thus explore our archive."


Sent by Fanny & Romain, added by Yvonne.

BMW Kinetic Sculpture

"The Kinetic Sculpture is a metaphorical translation of the process of form-finding in art and design.
714 metal spheres, hanging from thin steel wires attached to individually-controlled stepper motors and covering the area of six square meters, animate a seven minute long mechatronic narrative. In the beginning, moving chaotically, then evolving to several competing forms that eventually resolve to the finished object, the kinetic sculpture creates an artistic visualisation of the process of form-finding in different variations."


Added by Yvonne.

Dynamic Solid Terrain Model

The XenoVision Mark III Dynamic Sand Table (left image) by the company Xenotran is a self-reconfigurable solid terrain model for military applications. Michael Schmitz and coauthors explain how this high-resolution shape display with 7000 actuators was originally inspired by a scene from the X-Men movie (right image).


Added by Pierre.

Underwater by David Bowen

"Underwater is an installation created for INTERIEUR 2012. It uses a Microsoft Kinect and Processing to collected real-time surface data from moving wave patterns and translates them into this large scale installation comprised of hundreds of servo-motors controlling each point of the wave.

By positioning the ‘kinect’ on the water surface to be viewed as a floating membrane, the recorded information is then translated into a grid of three-dimensional data points – a form of landscape, which then talks to each of the 486 motors. As the data responds to the dynamic patterns found in the recorded wireframe models, the exhibition mimics the gestures found in the ripples of the river."


Watch an interview with the artist.

Sent by Samuel & Romain, added by Yvonne.

Blinds that Graph their Own Use

These motorized blinds have a mode where they graph their own use in the last 7 days.

Source: Yanko Design (2010) Truly the Wildest Blind.

Added by Pierre.

Another Actuated Bar Chart

Source: infosthetics (2009).

Added by Pierre.


Two airport installations based on large LCD pixels laid out in 3D space whose opacity change as a function of air traffic or weather.

For other examples of non-regular or 3D layouts of physical pixels, also see Rémi Brun's kinematic LED sculptures, Brygg Ullmer's Strata/ICC installation and LED cubes.

Source: and

Sent by Fanny, added by Pierre.

PARM: Projection Augmented Relief Models

The PARM system is part of an ongoing research project at the University of Nottingham. A static physical relief model is augmented with top projection to display landscape details and to overlay with additional data visualizations.

Sent by Stuart Reeves, added by Yvonne.

Another Array of Actuated Spheres

For the 2010 World Expo at Shangai, Japanese firms ADK and Murayama and Las-Vegas firm Fisher Technical Services, Inc. created an array of 1,008 15cm diameter spheres, each suspended by its own micro winch. The show does not include data visualizations.

There are many of these. See also Kinetic Rain and Triptych.


Added by Pierre.

Another Array of Actuated Bars

Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman created Headspace, a matrix of 256 motorised bars (total size 150 x 150 x 80cm) to display the faces of over 700 schoolchildren. Not a data visualization, but could be used as such.

Source: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman (2010).

Added by Pierre.

Season in Review

Baseball stats for an entire season created by Teehan+Lax labs as a combination of an interactive ipad app with an overlay of physical charts cut from acrylic. Depending on the current choice in the app, the edges of different charts get highlighted by the ipad. Check the sources below for more details.

Source: Teehan+Lax labs & vimeo

Sent by Samuel, added by Yvonne.


Know another one?

If you know other interesting physical visualizations, please e-mail us: