TDDE 131 Week 5: Data-drive interactive pieces with Isadora

[Discussion of conceptual exercise]
[Defining grading schema]
[Isadora basics]
[Critique of projects]

6:15-6:30 discussion of solar system mapping exercise

  • some read through all of them at once, some didn’t finish
  • it was interesting following someone else’s protocols -> exact protocols in science – related to reproduceability – it was unusual
  • difficult to do when back in own world – distracted by reality
  • one case someone had same memory as someone else at same planet – about 9/11
  • trouble remembering memories on command
  • sharing and remembering other people’s memories – touches on empathy
  • some of the memories got stuck
  • change of perspective of solar system – changed how one would describe the planets, strips away numerics into something relatable to
  • forcing to see someone else’s memory
  • taking a couple of steps away from a model, find a new position, come back to model

6:30-7:15 grading discussion

This is it:


  • 40%: try hard & process: sincerity – building on critiques – enthusiasm –  exceeding expectations- bold experimentation – risk taking – growth – insightful – research/follow-through – clarity 
  • 30% participation – engagement – giving meaningful feedback
  • 30% process -conceptualization – personal investment – creativity – different – synthesis – depth – goal/intent

7:30-8:00 intro to isadora


10 Steps to Isadora Success:

1. Insert registration key before opening Isadora.

2. Select the Data Array actor, extend the file path space so you can see a long file name.

3. Download the .txt files.  Select one and hit Command+I for Get Info.  Copy the “where” line and paste it into the File Path space.  Add the extra / between Desktop and the file name. It should look something like:


Remember, computers are specifc, they need to be told exactly where to look and the exact file name in the exact syntax.

4. In the Data Array actor, change “items” to the number of columns of data  you have.

5.  Test that Isadora is reading your text file by clicking in the “read” space.  This should trigger your first row of values to appear in the right hand side “value 1, value 2” area.

6. Attach an Envelope Generator actor to the node next to recall.

7. Click trigger on the envelop generator, and watch your values change.

You can change the parameters of any of these values.  Additionally, Right Clicking on the word of any parameter will take you to a submenu where you can further adjust max/min values.

8. Under File choose Import Media to add images, movies and sound files. Remember that your media – your photos, videos etc – are not stored as part of your Isadora project file, and will need to be saved / stored separately.

9. Use the Picture Player actor to set an image to the video channel.  Just enter the number of the image in your media library and it will figure out the rest.

10.  Connect things up.  Experiment. Make data/art.

8:00-8:50 critique 

Adrian & Tasha: “Ursa Major”


  • circle of phrases with variations in font size, orientation, printed out in yellow font on brown background
  • thoughts about color – neutral, not something to focus on
  • shape seems to be important, sense of time passage, cyclical, like a clock; sense of explosion
  • we had to orient ourselves to it; where do we start
  • boldness seems to be important, but hard to tell – misdirection
  • requirement – give a title – a handle, context

Adriana & Aisha: “Crossed Dimension”


  • black screen with graphics and attached couplets
  • couplets seemed somewhat “arbitrary” (too perjorative a word?) – but selected by a scheme
  • sense of blank space; sense of scale too big and small to directly access
  • sense of travel, a journey from place to place, each place was a discovery, worth going to
  • looked like a traditional map
  • clear choices made in symbology – definitely took previous week’s crits! 

Duy & Eliot: n+n: Convergence


  • two screens, two maps; one a video montage (with background cyclone), the other a word map (reflected)
  • viewers tried to draw associations between the two
  • didn’t know what video to look at – figured they were connected
  • a lot to take in, things take time to take in
  • sound was percussive, rhythmic
  • tie of cyclone with movies?
  • clearly a lot of effort and risk-making, less articulation, there may be some elements that don’t work out as well – could probably lose one thing


Melisa & Ryan: “the long coordinate number”


  • two plots – one 4-color matched to data element names and circular grid, and a gridless, colorless remap of bumps
  • very unique data visualization mapping
  • first map is very symmetrical – feels like a chart or poster; second map is far more artistic; these could work together better, maybe by removing color
  • 2nd one is almost a projection of the 1st
  • physicist likes the symmetry – something understandable – asymmetry is unsolvable
  • art values asymmetric composition – this a good disciplinary distinction!
  • display format – paper on floor – is this optimal? what scale is most appropriate?


This week you and your partner are to combine an astronomical image(s) and/or video(s), and a spectral and/or time series dataset, to produce a data-driven piece that is 1 minute long.  The final format should either be video or in Isadora if it is an interactive piece

Data files for driving your piece can be downloaded here:

spectrum.txt is the near-infrared spectrum of DENIS 1126-5003, and unusually blue L-type brown dwarf (yes, there were two colors there!) that is described in this paper.

kepler.txt is data from the Kepler space telescope that is being used by UCSD researchers to find primordial black holes.  Do your research!

For your astronomical image(s), I encourage you to peruse the Astronomy Picture of the Day and fine something that compels you:

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