ITP Blog

Data Art - Week 6: Moon Poetry Machine

Moon Poetry Machine, 2017

Moon Poetry Machine is a screen based interactive installation, to visualize the romantic narrative of traditional Chinese poetry archive about the moon.



I want to make an interactive installation piece to use the forms and transition of forms to reveal the rhythm and romantic narrative of a specific data archive, traditional Chinese poetry.

Traditional Chinese poetry is one of the most important parts of Chinese literature.

The moon(”月“) is a remarkable topic. Because it's a symbol to pass on poets' nostalgia, love, friendship, and passion for nature.

Another unique phenomenon is that, in the narrative of traditional Chinese poetry, the moon is represented by a lot of rhetoric words, such as "Beautiful Lady婵娟“,“Silver Hook银钩”, which also refers to different moon phases.

Being inspired by the following poetry, This visualization piece is trying to recreate the romantic scenario that the audience can interact with the moon and their shadow through body motion and face.

Li Bai

(Ying Sun译)

From a wine pot amidst the flowers,

I drink alone without partners.

To invite the moon I raise my cup.

We're three, as my shadow shows up.

Alas, the moon doesn't drink.

My shadow follows but doesn't think.

Still for now I have these friends,

To cheer me up until the spring ends.

I sing; the moon wanders.

I dance; the shadow scatters.

Awake, together we have fun.

Drunk, separately we're gone.

Let's be boon companions forever,

Pledging, in heaven, we'll be together.











Data Viz

The basic visual style is to use texts as particles and form the moon phrase and transition among moon phrase shapes.

The challenge is to put the shadow and moon in the same main sketch while audience look at it. I came up with the idea of "moon inverted reflection in the water". And the water will be composed of the rhetoric words about water in traditional Chinese poetry.

The ideal setting for the piece is a huge waterfall with a pool. The main sketch is projected or screened on the ground. And it will be surrounded by multiple displays with webcams installed.


Interaction Design

There are two kinds of sketches. The main sketch visualizes the shape and moon phrase. The app sketches are to inform the audiences of the process of interaction.

When audience's faces appear in the capture of webcams attached to the app sketches, the relevant positions in the main sketch will start to ripple gently.

When audience use hands to touch the main sketch surface, the relevant positions in the main sketch will start to ripple wildly and show a hidden message which explains what moon phrase at that time is and pick up a poetry contains a certain moon rhetoric word.

The moon phrase will change according to the real moon calendar and there is a button to switch to speed up mode.