New Forms From Alternative Data

I wasn’t completely satisfied with the forms I had achieved from the image mapper visualising the data on CO2 emission mainly trying to create wall pieces, so I continued to work on the definition to perfect the forms they produced. I am happy with how the image mapper work for visualising the oceans to be made into tables and wall pieces, using natures patterns as showpieces for the home and public spaces.

Below are some images of the image mapper producing really interesting surface from some images of visualisations from NASA.

However, the image mapper didnt work very well when I wanted to show the increase of CO2 gasses across time. This is when I want to use the data to say somthing about world issues, using the forms as visulisationg to raise awareness, demonstrating another aplication for my design method.  I found raw data for the increase in C02 gasses as well as deforestation and began brainstorming on how I might use it to control a definition

I began with a sine wave point attractor, dividing up a surface and then selecting a number of points at random places within that surface, where the number of point selected was defined by the data. At each point sine waves were generated through the surface. The more points, the more waves interlocking with each other and more complex surface produce. Whilst this did work, it wasn’t very effective and didn’t look particularly interesting, with the surface becoming very complex too quickly; beyond 5 points of generation, the surface just looked a bit of a mess. I then put the data through a point attractor definition. The negative of this surface was interesting but I wasn’t happy with how simple the surface looked, with simple peaks and troughs.

Experimenting with point attractor, curve attractor, sine wave point attractor and the image sampler definitions-


What I really wanted was to achieve a surface which starts of very linear and flat and as it progresses it get more and more complex as the data on CO2 production or deforestation gets worse and worse.

So I began doing some further research into Grasshopper. One of the components I found was called Populate 3D (or 2D). This is where grasshopper randomly populates a surface with a number of points. What I thought I might be able to do is create a number of sections out of one long surface, using the sub surface component, and in each of this surface populate it with a number of points defined by the data, so the larger the number in the data, the more points on the surface. After a bit of development of the definition, I achieved this, however, when I tried to fit a surface through the points it failed. I thought I could make a surface from this which would get progressively more complex as the data got larger, but I couldn’t get it to work. I think this was because the data strands in the definition were not working together as all the points related to separate surfaces so I couldn’t treat them all as one whole, despite using the merge data strands component, the surface didn’t fit properly.


I then saw this picture whilst doing some research and realised that there was a simple way this had been created.


This surface can be create by lining up a number of different curves and lofting a surface through them. This is pretty easy to do in Rhino, but a bit harder to achieve and define precisely in Grasshopper. What I managed to do was basically, create one surface of the size I wanted. The create a subsurface the size required to fit the number of surface to the number of data items into the larger surface. I then divided this surface into a number of points defined by the data. Following this, I also used the data item as the seed to generate a random list of numbers. These number were then moved by and amount also defined by the data. Finally, Curved were fitted through each line of points on the surface resulting in a number of curves in each subset. This was repeated for each data Item in the list. As the numbers in the data became higher, the points were moved more and the  curves were therefore more complex. Once they were all done the curved could be baked into Rhino and a surface lofted through them create the result that I was looking for. Below is the rather large definition.


Have achieved this I have realised how much I learnt of Grasshopper. I now use grasshopper for any CAD related task as I find it quicker and easier, with more control over the result. I am really pleased with my progression with this program and plan to continue using it in the future.

The images sampler definition with all the images of the visualisations from NASA (upper right two definitions are tests) –



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