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Data Beyond Vision


Photo by Shelley Szwast


3 months


Research, Weaving, Photography


Google Spreadsheets, Heddle loom, Indesign, Camera


This is an experimental project aimed at creating physical representations of data. In this project we wanted to tap into expanding the scholarly outputs in the humanities as the outcomes are often visual. This raises questions on missed opportunities for accessibility as well as shedding light on various dimensions of data. Therefore we used the data from four of our projects to create the data physicalizations. The pieces included an origami, kirigami, a woven piece, and a 3D printed lollypop chart.


I worked on applying the references from Derrida’s LeGrammatology to represent it in the form of a woven piece. Below is an outline of my steps:

  1. Worked collaboratively with Rebecca Koeser to decide what parts of the data we wanted to use, and decided on using the references  

  2. Placed all of the references in a spreadsheet to understand how many and of what kind  there are 

  3. Brainstormed and researched on how we wanted to translate the data into a weaving. Once we decided on weaving techniques and patterns, we ideated on shape and length of the piece and purchased a loom along with yarns.  

  4. We set up the loom and a work station. 

  5. I created a line-by-line translation document of the patterns and techniques so that we could collaboratively create the weaving.


The heart of this project lies in the process of its completion rather than the outcome itself. It is common to translate project data in the form of a website, application, searchable database, etc. but it becomes a very different space altogether when we have to translate that data into a physical object. Suddenly we are measuring new dimensions, tackling how each piece of data will need to be readable and distinguishable from the rest. Lines between “designing” and “building” and “using” are obscured as they become more intertwined. In this context, we would also have the opportunity to include others as participants in completing the piece.


As we exhibited the pieces at the ACH conference 2019, I created a set of instructions that included short tutorials on the various weaving patterns used in the piece as well as instructions on how to “encode” the patterns based on the data, e.g. “1 rya knot for 1 quotation”.


Data Physicalizations displayed at the ACH 2019 conference

Published pieces

If you are interested to learn more about this project we have written in detail about it which was published in the first issue of Startwords publication.

If you're interested in recreating the woven physicalization you can read this short piece also published in Startwords' first issue.

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