[ISEA2020] Paper: Scott Hessels — The Art of Trajectory: Celestial Mechanics V


Keywords: Data Visualization, Animation, Aerial Traffic, Aerial Congestion, Design History, Semiotics

How time is represented graphically has taken many forms but most commonly as a line. This simple visualization is founded in man’s first drawings and advanced in sophistication in tandem with advances in projectile weaponry which required the additional representation of space. Trajectory, a timeline through a space, is now the standard method of revealing aerial machine movement. Celestial Mechanics is a two-decade research project addressing the need for a multivariant visual system that represents the current realities of aerial traffic management and congestion for better public understanding of the dangers. The unique design challenges of a single display capable of delineating all layers of movement — drones, helicopters, planes, weather balloons, layers of satellites, debris — often begin with the rudimentary tool of showing journey as a line. This paper considers the history, design and eventually art of the trajectory.

  • Scott Hessels (School of Creative Media, Hong Kong) is an American filmmaker, sculptor and media artist based in Hong Kong whose artworks explore new relationships between the moving image and the environment. He produced some the first experiments in the fields of online streaming and locative media and has mixed cinema with a range of emerging technologies including computational sensors, robotics, GPS systems, and alternative forms of interactivity. His data-driven works have included partnerships with key science and government organizations and his new media installations have been presented in museum exhibitions focusing on both technology and fine art. His recognitions include patents for developed technologies, references in books and periodicals on new media art, and coverage in cultural media like Wired and Discover. He is executive producer of the Extreme Environments Programme which organizes art/science expeditions to environmentally significant sites.