A Reversed Calendar
mood & emotion | stress
Danielle Roberts describes her Reversed Calendar, which goes back in time to 2005 and contains eight years of mood and stress data, along with photos, micro diary entries, and poetry.
calendar | Excel
A Reversed Calendar
Good morning, I’m Danielle Roberts and for me it’s really an honour to be here and talk to you. I want to tell you a little bit of my work of art that I produced last year, it’s called Reversed Calendar and it’s over there. And I want to tell you a bit more how that came about.
When I started working as a media artist back in the late 90s, my aim was to record and share little everyday miracles which I just through pictures and haiku’s, which are short Japanese style poems. These were all sent to an online database and were immediately displayed on my website.
I thought it would be a interesting to add little bit more context to these microblog entries, so I started also tracking my mood and my energy level. I add them to the program that was already running using a little slider with the smiley feedback to see what my mood was at that particular time. And the energy level I also entered manually with the slider; these are of course subjective measure.
Later I also added my stress level to the program and used separate hardware device to capture that information. I was also interested in logging my inner peace levels, so they were also added to the program.
Finally in 2008 I started tracking my morning pulse. I just used my sports watch and I entered all the data manually into an Excel spreadsheet.
So that was 2005 up to now actually and yeah, I’ve been tracking all these different aspects of my life. And even though I’ve made some interactive animations with the mood, stress, and energy logs that i made, there were still a lot of time stamp data waiting there for me to do something with it. I had been dutifully tracking it but not actually working with it.
So then I got this invitation to do an exhibition and instead of doing an interactive screen base doing work which is my usual mode of working I decided to make something tangible, something that I could also sell. It was in the middle of the economic crisis and I was in need of some cash. So o though I would turn to all this daily data that I gathered into a big block calendar of which every page represents a day of my life. And people could tear off these pages and buy a slice of my life for one Euro a page.
So my main aim for this project was not so much to make an infographic, but to make a static piece and express more the poetic side of the data that I had been collecting.
The design of each page is made up of rows, 24 rows, each representing an hour, so that way I could position all the measurements I done and all the pictures I’d taken at the right position of the page.
Each aspect of my life that I’ve been tracking was represented in the form of lines or shapes, and the density and opacity of the lines and shapes would indicate how much there was of this certain parameter.
A friend of mine did some statistics on it I saw him yesterday, Marco but I don’t know if he’s here. He did some statistics calculating the means for all these parameters for every day and also some normalization of the data so I could do more easily the visualization. So what I did was use the average value of the day as a backdrop and layer all the values that differed from that mean, layered them on top of each other so you’ve got all kinds of different pages from the data that had been gathered.
To actually make this calendar I actually wrote a script that looked through all the years and all the days and gathered data from the different datasets. So I just set the rules for what I wanted the data to look like and let the program do the rest. So for me it was also a surprise for how each day would turn out. Some of them were really simple and a lot of them were quite complex and giving you an immediate impression of what my day was like.
So I ended up with a giant almost 3000 page PDF that was printed page by page, cut and perforated by me by hand, so it was quite an adventure. Then I put all the pages in a big stack and yeah there it is. After a couple of weeks of hard work I could hold my life in my hands which was actually quite a magical experience.
Because what I realized was memories in your head they’re fluid and they change over time as your life changes. But the word, pictures and inner states that I had logged persevered exactly as they were at the time when I logged them.
So for me leafing through the calendar it was quite comforting to see all my old joys and pains and see the different mood swings depicted as images. What I liked most about the calendar is that I have been able to transform ordinary feelings and events into image, and I have taken these common experiences to another level to be appreciated in a new way, not only for myself but also for other people to see.
And I would like to invite you all to come to the office hour right after the talks and have a closer look and leaf through the calendar.
Thank you very much for your attention.