3D Network Visualization

Exploring Dimensional Information Space, , August 2018

network visualization screenshot

Contributions

  • Technical Direction
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Software Development

Media Coverage

Our ability to understand and analyze networks are limited by two dimensional graphs and visualizations. These linear formats restrict the way we chart complex data, especially on a grand scale. This concern led Lisa Strausfeld to prototype an alternative— in the 1990s, she began researching 3D data visualization at the MIT Media Lab in hopes of creating a more efficient informational platform. 3D Network Visualization allows the user to explore networks within an interactive virtual space in a minimal environment without the flashy distractions one might expect within VR.
3D Network Visualization draws on information that is part of an ongoing research initiative at The New School titled, The New Historia, which aims to document and promote the achievements of historical women that have gone unnoticed by our society at large. The project uses spatial computing to explore complex temporal data sets visualized within an immersive VR environment. By leveraging the standard 2D network graph with an added dimension, we can extrude points into timelines that are linked to one another at specific and meaningful moments in time. Using a VR headset, the user can expand, reduce, and explore the data map, making connections in any direction. The prototype aims to reveal the possibilities of virtual data visualization, provoking a conversation on how to optimize new technologies to improve our interpretations of these networks.
“The network graph is perhaps the primary visualization of our time, but has limited utility as a tool of discovery. We’ve needed this extra dimension for a long time.”
Using Strausfeld’s framework and research, Glowbox developed a virtual environment that demonstrates time-based network data into an interactive space. To populate the graph, we used a Google Sheet as a central index to easily add and update data without the headache of manual data entry. This kept the content management lightweight, providing the client with a flexible and efficient database to use in later iterations. Additionally, we included a custom tool that would allow them to easily export video + images for sharing and presenting.
The prototype is part of Strausfeld’s ongoing research, who we can expect to see exciting developments from as her inquiries and innovations evolve.
exploring social and familial connections
exploring social and familial connections
written works visualized chronologically
written works visualized chronologically
looking 'forward' in time reveals connections between people
looking 'forward' through time reveals connections between people

Project Team

  • The New School
  • Lisa Strausfeld
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  • The New Historia
  • Gina Luria Walker
  • Jamer Hunt
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  • Informationart
  • Lisa Strausfeld
  • Takaaki Okada
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  • Glowbox
  • Ben Purdy
  • Thomas Wester
  • Jeremy Rotsztain
  • Kate Wolf

Tools & Technologies

  • Unity
  • VR
  • Google Sheets