Tracing Eyes and Hearts

Presented with physiological data like heart rate and sweat response, we are tempted to interpret patterns from ephemeral data. How can we represent the body’s subconscious responses to subjective experiences in other ways?

In this project, Heart Sense, we set out to facilitate an alternate encounter with the quantified self. To allow for a broader range of speculative explorations, we produced visualizations with heart rate, respiratory changes, and sweat response captured by non-intrusive sensors.

Discovery: Physiological Patterns

In tracking and visualizing data, we investigate and reflect upon the physiology of emotions in response to human stories. This interdisciplinary project brought humanities scholars and physiology scholars together. I was involved in visualization, prototyping, and ideation between 2016-2017. This project was initially funded by GVU Small Research Grants to create an art installation of representation, tracking, and visualization to investigate and reflect upon the physiology of empathy.

The installation allowed viewing curated video content as we tracked the participant’s emotional responses. Immediately after the experience, the particpant was provided a card with the visual representation — our most interesting finding was how closely people wanted to read and interpret the visuals. This observation signals how people emotionally engage with personal data even when the data itself represents a temporary state. To allow a distinctively human-centered exploration of the data, the project explored open-ended representations.

You can read more about feminist interpretation of data in this paper on Heart Sense.