SPARKS APRIL The Art of Scientific Visualization

The Art of Scientific Visualization: Perceiving the Imperceptible

SPARKS APRIL The Art of Scientific Visualization
Moderated by Bonnie Mitchell and Rebecca Xu
Session Description 

Our understanding of the world is limited by the capacity of our senses to ingest information and also by our brain’s ability to interpret it. Through the use of technology, we know that the universe we live in is far more complex and rich with information than what can be perceived by humanity. From microscopic to cosmic, information that transcends our lived experiences is difficult to comprehend. Our ability to augment our senses with technology has resulted in an accumulation of vast amounts of data, often in a form that needs to be translated to be understood. This SPARKS session explores the conceptual and creative aspects of scientific visualization. 

When raw numbers are converted to graphic or animated illustrations, important decisions must be made to facilitate human comprehension, interpretation, and analysis of often inconceivable natural phenomena. The use of art and design principles, coupled with an understanding of human perception and cognition, as well as a thorough command of computer graphics technologies enables scientific visualization artists to reveal the complexities of the incredible world we live in. Through the use of computer animation, graphic illustration, virtual reality, immersive installation, 3d printing, augmented reality and other mediums of sensory expression, scientific visualization artists and scientists are the important mediators between the known and the unknown, the seen and the unseen, and the imperceptible and the perceived.     


Participatory Spatial Media for Urban Environmental Data Visualization
Biayna Bogosian

This talk focuses on the transformative capacity of spatial media in unraveling the complex connections between urban environmental data, sociotechnical systems, and political dynamics. By integrating spatial media (such as locative, interactive, and immersive media) with critical making, environmental robotics, and other context-aware architectures, Biayna Bogosian’s interdisciplinary research highlights the potential of information communication to drive innovation and societal change.

Throughout the presentation, Biayna will highlight various projects centered on air and water pollution data visualization, employing participatory spatial media as a conduit for transforming environmental awareness into tangible action. Her work demonstrates how artistic expression, design principles, and an understanding of human perception can bridge the gap between the imperceptible and the perceived, ultimately revealing the complexities of the urban environment through the lens of scientific visualization.

The Physics of our Planet’s Climate via an Artistic Voice
Francesca Samsel

Computational climate models offer insights into the impacts on societies and life on our planet. The challenge is not just in how will societies address these changes but first how do we communicate the predictions without triggering paralyzing responses and or denial. Art has long served as a conduit for addressing threats too difficult to absorb via factual presentations. The Sculpting Vis Collaborative has developed software that enables artist created symbols and encodings to be applied to large scientific datasets. Here we present videos of visualization designed to blend high-resolution coupled climate modeling with results from artistic practice.

Climate Visualizations
Helen-Nicole (Eleni) Kostis

Eleni serves NASA’s Earth Science missions and programs by developing data-driven visualizations, conduits, and experiences to communicate complex climate phenomena and research findings to the scientific communities and the public. During the SPARK Session, Eleni will share the “What, How and Why” behind her practice at NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio and provide a glimpse of ongoing efforts.

Scientific Visualization Studio:

Anatomical Visualization in Motion: Exploring Creative Interaction Techniques
Jinsil Hwaryoung Seo

The presentation explores interactive and immersive visualization techniques for anatomical visualization, with a particular focus on muscle movement. Anatomical visualization benefits various fields, including life science, health science, and art. However, traditional methods such as cadaver dissection have limitations in comprehending the spatial relationships and functionality. Recent advancements in immersive and interactive technologies have brought new opportunities to anatomical visualization. The presentation showcases two such innovations, Muscle Action VR and Innervate VR. These enable embodied, mental visualization of anatomical structures and functions through muscle drawing on the skeleton, embodying a virtual muscular-skeleton, and simulating movement deficits. In conclusion, the presentation highlights the crucial role of interactive and immersive visualization techniques in bridging the gap between the observable and non-observable realities of anatomy.

Muscle Action VR – 
Innervate VR –

Below Victory: Revealing a Buried Past and Present 
Scott Hessels

Below Victory is an expanded Digital Heritage project based on ground penetrating radar scans of Gallo-Roman temple ruins hidden since Antiquity below Place de la Victoire in the center of Clermont-Ferrand, France. The new technology’s sounding dataset was the foundation for site-specific public trompe l’oeil, augmented reality, generative animation, and hundreds of design experiments.  

Developed during the pandemic’s peak years, augmented reality’s immateriality provided the ideal format for an artwork that studied an untouchable and hidden public site by an artist 10,000 kilometers away using a technology that only reveals through invisible echoes.

Cinematic Scientific Visualization (CSV) for documentary films
Kalina Borkiewicz

The Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications makes science beautiful, accessible, and exciting to audiences of all ages through IMAX films, museums, and TV documentaries. We are a Renaissance Team of artists and technologists who work directly with scientists to visualize the physical sciences (everything ranging from the large-scale structure of the Universe, to the quantum energy processes behind photosynthesis). For our current project, we are working with Nobel laureate Andrea Ghez on a visualization of a flight through the Milky Way galaxy to the supermassive black hole at its center.

The Multi-Modality of Complex Systems – Spatial-Temporal Exploration
JoAnn Kuchera-Morin

Complex systems in nature unfold over many spatial and temporal dimensions. Those systems easy for us to perceive as the world around us are limited by what we can see, hear, and interact with. But what about complex systems that we cannot perceive, those systems that exist at the atomic or sub-atomic? Can we bring these systems to human scale and view this data just as we do in viewing real-world phenomena? As a composer working with sound on many spatial temporal dimensions, shape and form comes to life through sound transformation. What seems to be visually imperceptible becomes real and visually perceptible in the composer’s mind. As media artists we can now take these transformational structures from the auditory to the visual and interactive domain through frequency transformation. Can we apply these transformations to complex imperceptible scientific models to see, hear, and interact with these systems bringing them to human scale?

Moderator Bios:

Bonnie Mitchell is a new media artist and Professor at Bowling Green State University in Digital Arts, in Bowling Green, Ohio, USA. Mitchell is a member of the ISEA International Advisory Committee and ACM SIGGRAPH History and Digital Arts Committee where she focuses on the development of their online archives. She is currently the SIGGRAPH 2023 conference History Chair in charge of the immersive Time Tunnel, history displays and retrospective talks. Her current creative practice focuses on development of physically immersive data visualization environments that showcase climate change over time.  Mitchell’s artworks explore spatial and experiential relationships to our physical, social, cultural and psychological environment through interaction, abstraction and audio. She has created numerous abstract visual music installations and animations that have been shown in hundreds of venues world-wide. 

Rebecca Ruige Xu teaches computer art as a Professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. Her research interests include artistic data visualization, experimental animation, visual music, interactive installations, digital performance, and virtual reality. Xu’s work has appeared at many international venues including IEEE VIS Arts Program; SIGGRAPH & SIGGRAPH Asia Art Gallery; ISEA; Ars Electronica; Museum of Contemporary Art, Italy; Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, etc. She is the co-founder of the ChinaVIS Arts Program. Currently, Xu serves as the Chair of the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Committee and IEEE VIS’23 Arts Program Co-Chair.