Read by the flickering shadows of exo-planets lightyears distant.
Reading by starlight was initially produced for the Making Space Data Physical project, as presented at SXSW Interactive 2013
. Space can be awe inspiring, reflecting the bleeding edge of human knowledge, yet space data
can be dry. Infographics represents one way of unveiling the wonder, as an alternative can we make space data physically and intimately connected to our daily life? Each of the artefacts producted in this project represents an attempt to do this.
Reading by starlight looks at the data from the Kepler Space Telescope
, a telescope continiously monitoring the brightness of 100,000 stars, looking for small periodic dips in brightness caused by the shadows cast by their planets. This data is scaled in amplitude and period, bringing moving it to a human timescale. This light is then shone from a lamp, bringing the data into a home setting.
In a society overrun by novelty and change amazing scientific finds can be lost amongst the clamour, even to those with an interest. Our digital tools offer access to a wealth of knowledge but also a glut of distractions. With design we can make small monuments to these scientific revelations knitted together with our day to day lives, using physical artefacts on an intimate personal scale to slip by our otherwise overwhelmed imaginations.
This further step of embedding the data in a domestic object is very important, allowing space data to mesh with our own daily rhythms provides a means to step beyond the spectacle and form a personal lasting connection with the object and the larger processes it represents.
Thomas, J., Wallace, J., Rogers, J., McGloin, D., Shorter, M. & Llewellyn, A., (2013) Reading By Starlight: An Exploration Into Making Space Data Physical And Personally Meaningful Research Through Design: Praxis and Poetics Conference, 3 – 5 September 2013, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK.