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Your mood in lights

by Jason Kornwitz

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.

The .vote project is a new installation in Ryder Hall, done by the Northeastern Information Design and Visualization MFA program in collaboration with Philips Color Kinetics. Photo by Maria Amasanti.

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 inCAMD 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.”

.votes 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.”