Billy Ho

Billy Ho(he/him) is a Creative Technologist and Designer who works at the intersection of Art, Research, and Commercial Technology. His works aim to evoke Introspection and Empathy for both humans and machines.

Billy holds a BFA in Industrial Design from Shih Chien University and an MFA Design and technology from Parsons School of Design. Click here︎︎︎ to view Résumé.

Making of: Texture of Dreams

4, Nov, 2021
I've been having a lot of dreams lately.

On Self portrait

When I first saw this weeks prompt, along side with features like textual and qualitative data, immediately peaked my interest in introspective data translations. I first heard about Data Visualization was with Lupi and Posavec's Dear Data, and fell in love with their way of displaying personal data in such poetic ways. Being a complete novice in the domain of Data vis and armed with my ignorance, I'd like to collect something even more nuanced, and, for the lack of better words: blurry.

On Dreams

I decided to chose dreams as my source of data, and came up with the following first iteration:
The parameters I've chosen were immediately greeted with my own skepticism after some studio group feedbacks, along with Ashley's comment on the fractured nature of my parameters. It had became clear to me that I was trying to "fit" the usual surface level labels on top of an almost arbitrary subjective data that was created within a space without any regards of those labels.
The following days I had been struggling with two main things:

  1. Actually recalling dreams more than the 7 ones I had hastily written down throughout the past 5 ish years that I found interesting.
  2. Determining the scope/scale of data points I'd would go with. Since I've pretty much abandoned all of my first iterations' labels, except the general direction I'd go for: Taxonomy.
I tried to characterize my dreams in to potentially "usable" or "plotable" points, that was when I realized issues in my first iteration. Besides the glaring issue of not having enough data, characteristics like emotions and general mood should be a result of my data visualization, not the ingredients.

On Taxonomy

I took a course 2 years ago by Jonathan Thirkield called Coding the Self, where I was introduced to the idea of taxonomy and text as identities. Without noticing at first I kept finding myself going back to that poetic space when I'm thinking about presenting dreams.
I've been trying to nail down what makes something both genuine and poetic, especially in the age of computational crafts, and while extremely narrow and short-sighted, I found a general good approach of "Going low level". For me, what lingers on long after I forgot the narrative of a dream is a combination of 2 things: Quotes and vignettes of visuals. While I would love to work with quotes, the lack of data and me not being comfortable enough to present them ending up taking me to those vignettes.
I started looking for visual properties to further break down the visual elements, ended up with texture and tone. The sketch above shows my process of trying to create different sets of visual textures as individual units.

Post mortem

There are still a lot of parameters have been left out, things like lighting tone, and the overall presentation could be incorporated with color as extra dimension for data points. To go further, I'd love to see alternative shapes this might take when I aggregated more data into the system. One obvious reference that came to my mind at first is Github's commit wall, with intuitive timeline and additive nature users can easily make out what those units stand for. Another interesting development might be to make modules of these closed circles as one controlled timeframe, with a year of data might include 12 of those circles.