Moon Poetry Machine-full

Moon Poetry Machine

Oct, 2017
Interactive Data Visualization

screen, webcam, p5.js, JavaScript, node

2017, ITP

Moon Poetry Machine is a data-driven interactive piece, to visualize the romantic narrative of traditional Chinese poetry archive about moon.


Traditional Chinese poetry is one of the most important part of Chinese literature. The moon(”月“) is a remarkable topic. 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 are also refer to different moon phrases.

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


Li Bai

(Ying Sun)

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.




The basic visual style is to use texts as particles and form the moon phrase so as the transition among moon phrase. The challenge is put the shadow and moon in the same direction while audience look at it. I came up with the idea of "moon inverted reflection in the water".
There are two kinds of sketches. The main sketch visualize the shape and moon phrase. The other sketches are to inform the audiences of the process of interaction.

When audience's faces appear in the capture of webcams attached to the other 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.

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