.vote project

Your mood in lights

Three-​​dimensional LED matrix displays the collective sentiment of the Northeastern community
April 28th, 2014

How do you feel about finals? Anx­ious? Exhausted? Relieved?

Share your feelings with the Northeastern com­mu­nity by voting online or by pressing one of the color-​​coded buttons outside of Ryder Hall. Select red for anxious, purple for exhausted, or blue for relieved.

The results will be displayed each night after sunset in a three-​​dimensional LED matrix, which is mounted on the building’s façade and comprises 900 lights.

Dubbed “.vote,” the display is the result of a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Philips Color Kinetics and Northeastern’s Master of Fine Arts in Infor­ma­tion Design and Visu­al­iza­tion, a new two-​​​​year interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts, Media, and Design in which students learn to translate and com­mu­ni­cate infor­ma­tion into visual, physical, and virtual forms.

On Thursday evening, a score of students, faculty, and staff gathered at Cen­ten­nial Common for the official opening of the inter­ac­tive instal­la­tion, which will remain on display until the fall. After finals, a new question will be posed to the Northeastern community.

.vote was created by six graduate students in the MFA program for a course titled “Infor­ma­tion design for dynamic media and light.” Dietmar Offen­huber, an assistant professor of information visualization, and Susanne Seitinger, the city inno­va­tions manager for Philips Color Kinetics, co-​​taught the course, which aimed to demonstrate the power of outdoor lighting systems in urban settings.

You can let the group know what you think of the instal­la­tion and share ideas for future polls by emailing your suggestions to idv-​students@​neu.​edu. Don’t be afraid to get cre­ative. “We want to use this technology to develop infrastructure that can be used by students of any dis­ci­pline,” said Offen­huber, who holds joint appointments in CAMD and the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. “There is already a lot of interest from other departments throughout the uni­ver­sity to develop exper­i­ments that can be run on the façade.”

.vote’s diverse array of potential appli­ca­tions aligns with the aca­d­emic makeup of the first cohort of students in the infor­ma­tion design and visu­al­iza­tion program: Their under­grad­uate backgrounds range from biology and philosophy to economics and motion design.

Ashley Treni, MA’15, studied graphic design and was introduced to the master’s program by Nathan Felde, the chair of the Department of Art + Design. “I’ve always been inter­ested in visu­al­izing sys­tems and inter­ac­tion design,” Treni said. “The exciting thing about this program is that we’re able to explore all of these emerging fields, including data mining, infor­ma­tion design, expe­ri­ence design, and systems design.”

Her con­tri­bu­tion to the inter­ac­tive instal­la­tion included designing text for the LED matrix. But col­lab­o­ra­tion was key, she said, especially when pro­gram­ming was involved.

“We all worked together and gave each other feed­back,” Treni explained. “Our goal was to create a space for students, faculty, and staff to interact with something and then be able to see the collective sentiment of the Northeastern community.”

- By Jason Kornwitz


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