Present Tense

Reimagining the Collective

Rhea Jiang
MDes HPDM 2022
Dabao Guo
Harvard College 2022
Rosalie Lin
MDes Tech 2022
1 Each individual’s color indicates their ethnicity, but their behavior is driven by their sense of cultural belonging.

Present Tense is a visualization project that aims to explore alternative ways of representing a community. Instead of traditional demographic survey data, we asked GSD students questions such as “What does your social landscape look like?” and “Does your sense of cultural belonging coincide with your ethnicity?” We believe that these social and cultural characteristics can facilitate a more interesting and perhaps more intimate way of imagining the collective, and bring to the light the hidden connections between us.

Each particle represents a member of the community, gravitating towards or tensing up against other particles depending on their relationship. After visualizing each individual characteristic on its own, we combined relevant characteristics to explore those social relations further. User interactions, by pressing different keys, will switch between visualizations to allow for comparison, and the user can also use their mouse to select and drag a specific particle to see how their movement will affect the behavior of the collective. In the future, we hope to combine more layers of different characteristics to create explorations of more complex relations, and upload to OpenProcessing so anyone can interact with our animation and adapt our code to their own demographic data.

Project video
2 Visualization of GSD students’ political affiliations: as we expected, responses ranged from very liberal to neutral.
3 Social behavioral patterns.
4 Social behavioral patterns during COVID-19.
5 Visualization of GSD students’ personalities, from very introverted to very extroverted.