Redefining Public Art in Toronto

Toronto is poised to become a leader in public art after four decades of significant investment. At the same time, Toronto is at an inflection point; our investment and overall initiative has lagged vis-à-vis peer cities. Toronto will thrive if we renew our commitment to a powerful public art presence for our city and support that commitment with appropriate private and public sector institutional capacity, funding, and collaboration.

Spurred by this dialogue and by the relevance of public art to universities, researchers from OCAD University and the University of Toronto joined together to produce this report, Redefining Public Art in Toronto.

Funding for this project was graciously provided by the Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, Leslie Gales, Metropia Developments/Howard Sokolowski, David Moos Art Advisory, Bill Morneau & Nancy McCain Foundation, the University of Toronto, and OnSite Gallery and the Office of the President, OCAD University. We acknowledge the important contribution of Ilana Altman’s research to our conclusions. We thank David Moos for inspiring us to undertake this project.

We also extend a sincere thank you to our informal Advisory Group: Mitchell Cohen, Elsa M. Fancello, Leslie Gales, Emanuelle Gattuso, Claire Hopkinson, Peter Kingstone, Nancy McCain, David Moos, Anthony Sargeant, and Carol Weinbaum.

We thank our readers who gave helpful feedback to our draft: James Booty, Rebecca Carbin, Stuart Keeler, Bruce Kuwabara, Ciara McKeown, Terry Nicholson, and Catherine Dean and her City of Toronto colleagues.

OCAD University Team

  • Dr. Sara Diamond, OCADU President
  • Dr. Marie-Josée Therrien, Associate Professor
  • Ala Roushan, Assistant Professor
  • Francisco Alvarez, Executive & Artistic Director, OCAD U Galleries System
  • Dr. Claire Brunet, Associate Professor
  • Derek Sullivan, Assistant Professor
  • Xenia Benivolski, Alumni/Independent Curator
  • Macy Siu, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Roman Romanov, Undergraduate Research Assistant
  • Jade Lee Hoy, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Robin Buxton-Potts, Coordinator

University of Toronto Team

  • Dr. Daniel Silver, Associate Professor
  • Noga Keidar, PhD Candidate
  • Dr. Analays Alvarez Hernandez, Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Yasmin Koop-Monteiro, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Dr. Mark Cheetham, Advisor Associate Professor


“Redefining Public Art in Toronto” provides a blueprint for the future of public art in Toronto. It makes a number of recommendations:


  • A renewed vision for public art in Toronto
  • Redefine public art
  • Public art everywhere
  • Simplify process
  • Robust funding for public art
  • Build new collaborations
  • Promote public art
  • Integrate public art into all future planning

Executive summary and major recommendations

Toronto is poised to become a leader in public art after four decades of significant investment. At the same time, Toronto is at an inflection point; our investment and overall initiative has lagged vis-à-vis peer cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and Ottawa. Toronto will thrive if we renew our commitment to a powerful public art presence for our city and support that commitment with appropriate private and public sector institutional capacity, funding, and collaboration.

Given the cultural diversity of Toronto, its Indigenous population, ongoing development, population growth, and the strength of its public institutions, Toronto should be known for the reach, diversity, and transformational power of public art in its downtown core and across its neighbourhoods and communities. Toronto is Canada’s largest city and a dynamic hub of economic activity and immigration. It is increasingly a vertical city where the public realm plays a critical role in its social and recreational life. Public art can educate and engage youth, spark tourism, help us to understand ourselves better, and enhance our day-to- day experience of the urban environment. Public art can be a powerful force that serves many constituencies and can unify and challenge us across our cultural identities and neighbourhoods.

While at a turning point, Toronto has benefited from decades of significant investment in public art. City policy has harnessed the unprecedented development boom to make public art a compelling presence in the downtown core and other areas of intense growth. Development is now moving into other neighbourhoods, heralding opportunities for continued developer-driven public art investment outside of the downtown core. The number of public art works within the city borders is at an all-time high (700 public artworks in Toronto from 1967– 2015), and various programs co-exist to deliver large-scale permanent work, festivals, and temporary and ephemeral installations across multiple media and scales.

Yet there are gaps and challenges. The City of Toronto lacks a public art master plan. Outside of intensive development zones, public art is scarce; and in the urban core there are few sites where it is aggregated into larger or interconnected projects. In comparison with other cities’ public art policies and bylaws, Toronto lacks strong policy tools to bring public art to underserved areas. The City of Toronto does not mandate a significant place in its own infrastructure plans and budgets for public art. Moreover, Toronto’s formal public art guidelines have not kept up with emergent global public art practices, which increasingly encourage more open and diverse ideas of what public art is and can be, emphasizing the power of public art for audience and viewer engagement. Even within the limits of its current policy framework, there is much that the City of Toronto could do to expand the scope and vision of public art. For example, public art created through the City’s own capital projects offer opportunities to realize projects beyond sculptural work, thereby redefining the notion of permanence when it comes to public art.

Over the last four decades public art has galvanized neighbourhoods around the world, yet in Toronto it is a relatively untapped tool for engaging with and promoting vibrant and inclusive communities. Inspired by the potential of art in public space, a vigorous dialogue has sprung up from many sources with the goal of making Toronto a leader in global public art practice. Participants seek to evaluate current practice and explore future opportunities to expand the definition, practice, and support for public art in this city. Though this conversation transcends policy, policy is a key part of the puzzle. Spurred by this dialogue and by the relevance of public art to universities, researchers from OCAD University and the University of Toronto joined together to produce this report, Redefining Public Art in Toronto.

While the final chapter provides an in-depth discussion of our conclusions and recommendations, major recommendations are summarized below and structured into immediate actions and midterm actions.

1. A renewed vision for public art in Toronto


  • The City of Toronto must renew its commitment to public art.
  • Establish the goal of international leadership in public art.
  • Establish the goal of public art everywhere and end “public art deserts” outside the downtown core.
  • Launch a one-year public art working group to develop a public art master plan (called for in the 2003 Culture Plan for the Creative City but never implemented). In the short term, establish a timeline and oversee implementation of immediately actionable proposals in this report. Include City of Toronto staff, public art experts, artists, developers, planners, and architects.
  • Augment the public art master plan with an implementation plan and integrate public art planning into other key City planning documents and core values.

2. Redefine public art


  • Change Toronto’s definition of public art to encompass artworks of different typologies, durations, and media, from the temporary and ephemeral to semi-permanent and permanent installations and sculpture, media art, and performances, reflecting best practices in leading cities.
  • Define inclusive eligibility for professional artists, interdisciplinary artists, and teams that include (for instance) artists, designers, architects, landscape artists, and new media artists-engineers.
  • Support local, international, and emerging artists’ projects.
  • Create opportunities for Indigenous and culturally diverse voices.

3. Public art everywhere


  • Build a district-oriented approach into a new Public Art Master Plan while simultaneously fast-tracking new local-area public art plans.
  • Deploy public art as a means to create community hubs and districts and to humanize and aestheticize much-needed infrastructure.
  • Commission public art as a means of social engagement, dialogue, and social interaction, including all City of Toronto neighbourhoods.


  • Integrate public art into specific plans, including those of TOCore, Parks and Recreation, and other Toronto agencies.
  • Aggressively deploy existing policy tools to pool public art contributions collected through Section 37 and City capital projects, hence creating dialogue across projects and spaces.
  • Strengthen policy mechanisms that permit pooling existing and future funds from private and public sources.
  • Establish a centralized and consolidated Public Art Trust Fund from City of Toronto capital projects and new funding sources, capable of targeting any part of the city.
  • Partner with Toronto’s existing Local Arts Services Organizations (LASOs) to build a strong public art presence in all parts of the city.
  • Support purchases of existing works and loans as an economically viable means to expand public art works.

4. Simplify process


  • Create a single Public Art Office that spans Culture and Planning. Ensure that artists are engaged in site and project planning to better guarantee quality, integration, and cost.
  • Create clear policies regarding process to acquire existing works: sustainability and stewardship for loans (lending practices), rentals, and purchases.


  • Create and more proactively implement flexible methods to acquire public art through open calls, invitational competitions (RFQ and RFP), commissions of new works, rentals, loans, and purchases of completed works.

5. Robust funding for public art


  • Implement Toronto City Council recommendation (2003) that the City of Toronto and its agencies apply a “per cent for art” program to all major capital projects, both for new buildings and infrastructure.
  • Create a set-aside to service conservation of City of Toronto art works over the next five years to bring works up to appropriate standards, including conservation and annual reviews by conservators who will issue reports and updates.
  • Mandate that the set-aside from developer-supported projects for maintenance (10 per cent or another agreed-upon amount) support an arms-length fund for conservation and annual reviews by conservators, who will issue reports and updates.


  • Create policy mechanisms that require developers to make public art projects a component of all new building projects in the City of Toronto, according to a clear set of guidelines. We acknowledge that the Ontario Planning Act does not currently enable this approach through Section 37. However, this practice is common in many Canadian, North American, and international cities. Possibilities include recognizing public art as an eligible development charge.
  • Develop new tools for funding public art. Possibilities include setting aside a portion of current billboard taxes for billboard public art, setting aside any new City hotel or vacant property tax, and provincial recognition of public art as an eligible development charge.
  • Create a central Public Art Trust Fund to support significant public art projects. This fund would pool City of Toronto funds with other potential funding sources.
  • Create specific project funds for Indigenous works, screen-based and media works, and works of shorter duration.
  • Create opportunities for artist-run centres and post-secondary institutions to commission public art works that are temporary, created by emerging artists, and/or community-based.
  • Require that all City of Toronto agencies contribute a fixed percentage of
  • their capital budgets towards public art.
  • After the task force completes its work, create a “Friends of Public Art" group to foster collaboration and dialogue regarding public art in the City of Toronto and to build the Public Art Trust Fund.

6. Build new collaborations


  • Collaborate with the Ministry of Canadian Heritage to ensure that there is a public art set-aside for investments in cultural spaces funding in Toronto.


  • Strengthen collaborative programs between professionals, public institutions, the City of Toronto, the Toronto Arts Council, Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), neighbourhood and civic associations, developers, and universities.
  • Promote public art exhibitions in public facilities, such as libraries, police and fire stations, community and civic centres, and municipal and provincial service centres, as well as cultural institutions and universities.
  • Embed public artists in many city agencies, on the model of Edmonton’s "Art of Living" plan, Seattle's Artist-in-Residence program, or Vancouver's Artist-Made Building Parts program.

7. Promote public art


  • Create online interactive tools to promote Toronto’s rich public art holdings by building on Ilana Altman’s The Artful City.
  • Develop ongoing support for expert-led engagement with artworks in partnership with universities, existing public art agencies, public art leaders, and other groups, in collaboration with Tourism Toronto. Community consultations and community involvement in the function, site, and conceptual approach of a given public art project should be woven into both the process of choosing artists and finalizing commissions.

8. Integrate public art into all future planning


  • Integrate public art into all aspects of urban planning such as urban design guidelines. Use public art to enhance the meaning and impact of policy priorities, such as affordable housing, infrastructure developments, or environmental awareness.
  • Review policy every ten years in recognition of the dynamic environment of Toronto.

Approach to research

The interdisciplinary OCAD University and University of Toronto team consisted of public art practitioners, curators, art and architectural historians, design thinkers, urban planners, and cultural sociologists. We deployed a mixed-method approach, beginning with a literature review. We then examined Toronto’s own history through an overview of policy documents, interviews, and a quantitative analysis of the number of public art works produced in Toronto over time to understand where public art is produced and who is producing it. We considered the Canadian and international field of municipal public art policy and practice through a rigorous evaluation of policy documents in order to identify trends and future directions in the field. We undertook a deep comparative case study with Montreal, again using documents and 40 interviews from both cities as part of our qualitative approach.

Public art bylaws, zoning, and funding models vary from province to state and from city to town, as delineated in this document. But a common theme across policy and legal environments is that cities with a strong commitment to public art find a way to realize that commitment, whatever their distinctive policy challenges may be. Measured against the international trends in the field, Toronto has not kept up in the ways that we document.

We are suggesting new elements of programs and strategy as well as the implementation of previously proposed but unrealized ideas. But we are also supportive of much that exists in Toronto, seeing ways to update its currency for now and the future. Although not focused beyond Toronto, our recommendations may bear relevance for other cities in Ontario and beyond.

The report is structured as follows: Chapter 1 provides a synthesis of our methods, while Chapter 2 is a literature review. Chapter 3 examines Toronto’s history and practice through its policy documents and patterns of public art development over time. Chapter 4 develops the international comparison, while Chapter 5 discusses the results of our qualitative research, interviews with key public art stakeholders in Toronto. Chapter 6 briefly reviews ideas from two public forums, the result of collaboration between the Art Gallery of Ontario and OCAD University. Chapter 7 articulates the results of a close comparative case study with Montreal.

Chapter 8 reiterates our recommendations. It was clear that Toronto could adopt best practices from other Canadian cities, such as Ottawa and Montreal, as well as from international leaders such as San Francisco, while continuing to lead in this city’s considerable commitment to public art — not only through ongoing investments by the developer community, but also by expanding the City’s own investment while pursuing other new funding tools.

Title banner for "Redefining Public Art in Toronto" with OCAD and U of T logos.
Monday, June 19, 2017 - 4:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond
Marie-josee Therrien
Ala Roushan
Claire Brunet
Derek Sullivan

iCity: Urban Informatics for Sustainable Metropolitan Growth

The iCity urban transport project focuses on the development of data analytics transportation and transit planning tools that could increase individual and community participation in the development, planning, and design of transportation systems interfaces.

This ongoing project is a collaboration between multiple institutions, led by the University of Toronto, and includes OCAD University, University of Waterloo, and IBM Canada. OCAD's role is the third theme of this multi-year project and focuses on developing a visualization and visual analytics tools that can interpret the vast amount of quantitative data gathered from the socio-technical and technological systems that are embedded in urban life. 

The OCAD U iCity team employed a user-centered process for design, exploring visualization techniques based on user interaction with urban transportation applications. A taxonomy was developed that considered user tasks, level of engagement, and type of data input or output. Researchers also interviewed experts from within the urban transportation sector to identify their visualization needs and challenges. This project has delivered many open source research projects including Betaville, StoryFacets, Compara, and more. The current stage of the project for OCAD University and the visualization theme works directly with the recent development of the Toronto Waterfront in partnership with Waterfront TO, ESRI, and Sidewalk Labs.

As an interactive system resource, iCity sets out the conditions for individuals and groups to highlight their needs/wants/values and to particpate in strategic planning opportunities, facilitating a more democratic and participatory urban design process.

Additional resources:
Read "Analyzing student travel patterns with augmented data visualizations"[1], available through OCAD's Open Research Repository, here.
iCity at the University of Toronto



1. Skelton, Carl and Juneja, Manpreet Kaur and Dunne, Cody and Bowes, Jeremy and Szigeti, Steve and Zheng, Minsheng and Gordon, Marcus A. and Diamond, Sara (2017) Analyzing student travel patterns with augmented data visualizations. In: Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference Companion Publication on Designing Interactive Systems, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 10-14 Jun 2017. Available at

 2D map with interactive 3D infographics representing StudentMoveTO data generated using Betaville
Friday, June 15, 2018 - 10:15am
Lab Member: 
Jeremy Bowes
Marcus A. Gordon
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Dr. Sara Diamond

ViewerCentric: Visualization engineering towards a tool for media discoverability

This ongoing project sees researchers from OCAD’s Visual Analytics Lab working closely with Magnify Digital. It applies data analytics strategies and visualization best practices to the development of ViewerCentric, a visualization dashboard that allows users in the film, television, and media distribution sectors to understand complex data sets.

The data sets include streaming social media data and static data related to consumer habits. Visualization of this complex data helps content creators to better understand their audiences, increasing their discoverability.

A key component of this research is finding ways of combining multiple data sets and presenting the results in an actionable way. The ViewerCentric interface provides its users with the means to develop effective and measurable, online marketing strategies; find and assess audiences, identify opportune channels for reaching these, and evaluate messaging, funding and advertising opportunities and reports that can be submitted to funders, broadcasters, sponsors, and stakeholders.

Researchers will extend the system to other cultural content that has or could have a digital component or tag such as visual art, live entertainment, music and publishing - supporting its discoverability and user analytics. Currently editors and independent producers rely on hunches and creative vision without understanding the varied demographic differences of their audiences into account, while advertising agencies and brands primarily consider data. The objective is to help cultural industries and not-for-profits monetize content and balance personalization, market drivers and editorial direction.



We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Cette recherche a été financée par le Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG).

Friday, May 18, 2018 - 1:30pm
Lab Member: 
Sana Shepko
Jad Rabbaa
Afrooz Samaei
Marcus A. Gordon
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Dr. Sara Diamond


Research addressed RBC need for tools to help identify the emotional response of clients regarding bank services in order to improve their customer services. As of date, they are interested in a software solution to help them visualize networks of subsidiaries, in order to analyse money flow between different counterparts (borrowers and lenders)



To develop visualization analysis tools which can be used (internally) by RBC to better understand existing data.



Gali, G., Oliver, S., Diamond, S. & Chevalier, F. (2012). Visualizing Sentiments in Business--Customer Relations with Metaphors, in ACM Proceedings  of the SIGCHI conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12), pp. 1493—1498.

Monday, August 11, 2014 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Dr. Fanny Chevalier


Three related factors appear to be relevant in allowing an understanding of online behaviors: attention (the time that individuals and groups expend); influence (the relationships between ideas, products and behaviors) and affect (the emotions and sentiments that are expressed in relation to ideas and products). The extraction of accurate data, then the analysis of these factors in online behavior, and the charting and representation of relationships between these factors poses a significant challenge. For one thing, these factors need to be related to specific content. Data analytics and visualization tools are needed to represent each factor and to chart these relationships. There is very little research to date that works across these fields. This large-scale project seeks to shed light on each element of online social media practice and to then draw relationships between these elements.

Research Description:

People perform topic-based content exploration on large-scale social media systems. Such sites continue to expand rapidly. For example, Twitter continues to grow around the globe at a record pace. Just a year ago, they delivered 65 million Tweets a day. Today, they generate over 200 million Tweets per day. One year ago, there were approximately 150,000 registered Twitter apps. Now, there are more than one million. Facebook has more than 800 million active users of which more than 50% log on to Facebook in any given day where the average user has 130 friends. Seventy-seven percent of active Internet users read blogs. At the same time specialized media companies, brand development agencies and brands have developed social media applications that allow their users to communicate and at the same time, allow them to track the resulting data.

Editorial and business leaders see value in understanding the emotional tone, influences, attention span and diversity of their various sections and offerings, contributors and readers. Attention and influence, for example, currently directly impact advertising dollar interest in an article. In going digital, media publications have added commentary in the form of opinion blogs by its core of writers as well as ample opportunity for readers to vote and comment. Currently a majority of online media allow readers to express their thoughts and opinions on content through social media commentary. This information can impact advertising sales, decisions on style and relatedness of writers and design and even the kind of influence that different sections, authors or columns may have. Editorial leadership is eager to better manage the means for reader commentary. At the same time it is valuable to understand any underlying patterns that suggest reasons for specific emotional tone. Discovering sentiments, patterns and relationships embedded in articles as well as comments is important for tracking the newspaper’s role in shaping public opinion on contemporary issues and the ways that readers interact with these opinions. It can help media analysts better understand the impact of sentiments on news events. What is more, new tools, on multiple platforms can be developed for media users that allow them to shape their emotional content and respond to others, and chart the influence of their ideas, media patterns and behaviors.

For almost a decade contemporary brands have relied on a growing direct dialogue with their consumer base through social media, and gamification (direct play as a means of polling). These relationships engender loyalty and provide a rich source of data to understand and predict consumer behaviors. Consumer opinion that is expressed in response to new offerings, system breakdowns, or customer service is of critical importance in a world where viral trends erupt quickly with significant impact. Events and opinion outside of an immediate enterprise can have a direct impact in a social media era. Marketing and advertising companies analyze consumer attitudes and relationships to brands for trend analysis and product development. The technology of “predictive analytics” is being fine-tuned by digital media and ICT companies with new offerings such as inferSYTEMS. While the technology of monitoring is becoming more sophisticated, the underlying assumptions of analysis have not changed dramatically for many years, continuing to rely on twentieth century psychology structures. Brands and media analysis companies seek to bring together social media data with data that tracks consumer behaviors – in specific their attention to media, to products and services and their consumption patterns.

In some areas, e.g., healthcare, free-form texts are the most common form of valuable data. These data range from doctor’s notes, descriptions of patient histories, to healthcare-related messages posted by patients on social media such as blogs, bulletin boards, and discussion forums. Such narrative text data contain the most valuable information for physicians to use in their practice and for public and government agencies to make their healthcare-related decisions. Recently, the New York Times reported on a study by MIT researchers, which showed that companies included in their study that adopted data-driven decision-making achieved 5-6% higher productivity than those that did not.

Since data are continuously generated every day in large volumes, the sheer amount of data is too overwhelming for humans to read and analyze manually. Automatic text analysis tools are in great need to discover the hidden information trapped inside the free-form texts. For example, a tool that identifies and analyzes the healthcare-related posts in social media can detect public opinions, activities and preferences in healthcare-related issues.

Understanding consumer opinion of reliability and service quality across an industry like banking can have an impact on a specific company’s quality of service as well as enabling an entire industry to improve. Natural language analysis, data mining and information retrieval are key techniques that can be used to build such text analysis tools.

It is difficult to discern meaning by extracting information piece by piece. We hypothesize that taking a data-driven design approach to visualizing content would make the aggregate meanings more apparent. The advantage of working with this partially processed data is that issues of confidentiality do not arise since any confidential or client information has been abstracted from the media. A second advantage is that research can also focus on visualization and design issues rather than duplicate commercially available linguistic parsing capabilities.

Colourful lines from design piece
Colourful lines from design piece
Colourful lines from design piece
Monday, September 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond



This project intends to develop tools to support media companies in transition from print to digital through addressing the following research questions:

1) How do subscribers and non-subscribers consume print and/or online media – what is similar and what different?

2) How can social media data be leveraged to build and retain readers, and to inform a sophisticated next generation personalized recommendation system?  


The Globe & Mail


Dr Sara Diamond and Dr Steve Szigeti


Diamond, S. & Szigeti, S. (2013). Social Media Data Visualization Case Study: Globe and Mail. Workshop: CIVDDD Collaborative Research in Big Data Analytics and Visualization. At CASCON 2013, November 18-20, 2013. Toronto, ON.conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’12), pp. 1493--1498.

Oliver, S., Gali, G., Chevalier, F. & Diamond, S. (2012). Discursive Navigation  of Online  News,  in ACM  Proceedings  of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS’12), pp. 82—85.

Research Paper image
Monday, August 11, 2014 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond
Dr. Fanny Chevalier
Symon Olivier


Visual analytic tools, combined with social networks and mobile platforms, make it possible to create multi-dimensional, holistic pictures of people’s health care and condition and expand the scope of information addressed in medical records. The Care and Condition Monitor (CCM) is a tablet-based, networked visual analytics tool for collecting, structuring and analyzing informal and qualitative healthcare data and visualizing it in a circular format. It illustrates how social communication within teams of caregivers enables capturing of longitudinal informal data that can (a) result in rich and meaningful information visualizations, (b) improve comprehension of healthcare data and changes in condition over time, and (c) support medical decision making. 

Screenshot of visual analytics tools
Monday, September 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Dr. Sara Diamond
Dr. Bhuvaneswari Arunachalan


Stacked-stacked bar graph is the working title of a visualization that builds on the strengths of a stacked bar graph. Where a stacked bar graph allows for a visual comparison of the parts to the whole, our proposed visualization further divides the parts to allow for additional points of comparison.

For more information, see:
Szigeti, S., Patrasc, J., Schnitman, D., and Diamond, S. 2014. “The Stacked-Stacked Bar Graph: A New Twist on an Old Visualization.” IEEE InfoVis Proceedings.

Stacked-stacked bar graph is the working title of a visualization that builds on the strengths of a stacked bar graph.
Stacked-stacked bar graph is the working title of a visualization that builds on the strengths of a stacked bar graph.
Monday, September 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Joana Patrasc
David Schnitman


The Infinite Canvas is a tablet display for news search results display that takes advantage of spatial relationships to understand connections between articles.  The articles are sorted by relevance along the vertical direction, and by date along the x direction.

For more information, see: 
Szigeti, S. Schnitman, D., Peters, J., Vu, P. & Diamond, S. (2015). Infinite Canvas: A novel presentation of newspaper search results on a tablet. MobileHCI 2015, August 24-27, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Screenshot from the Infinite Canvas - a tablet display for news search results
Screenshot from the Infinite Canvas - a tablet display for news search results
Monday, September 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Steve Szigeti
David Schnitman
Jessica Peter
Dr. Sara Diamond


We are creating a Tangible User Interface (TUI) designed to interactively query a database.  While much work has been done on TUI, showing that they encourage collaboration and positively enhance user experience, few tangible systems have been designed specifically for data analysis tasks.  Our system combines a tabletop (non-digital) graspable user interface with a two-dimensional screen display; the user interrogates the data by placing tokens on or off the tabletop and the screen displays the results of the user’s query.  The objects are tagged using fiducial markers, which are identified with open-source ReacTIVision computer vision software, and the visualization code is written in Processing.  We use radio station listenership demographic data for our current prototype, but the system can be used to query any type of database.

Below is a schematic of our tangible data query system.  Users create queries by placing objects onto a table, which has a camera placed discretely below it; the results of the query are displayed onto an overhead screen placed at one end of the table.  A video of the interaction can be viewed here:



Jofre, A., Szigeti, S., Tiefenbach-Keller, S., Dong, L.-X., Diamond, S. “Manipulating Tabletop Objects to Interactively Query a Database” (2016) CHI’16 Extended Abstracts (Chi 2016 San Jose May 7-12) 

Jofre, A., Szigeti, S., Diamond, S. "Citizen engagement through tangible data representation" Foro de Educación (January-June 2016) vol. 14, n. 20 

Jofre, A. Szigeti, S., Tiefenbach-Keller, S., Dong, L.-X., Tomé, F., Czarnowski, D., Diamond, S. (2015) "A Tangible User Interface for Interactive Data Visualization" Proceedings of the 2015 Conference of the Center for Advanced Studies on Collaborative Research. IBM Corp., CASCON2015, November 2-4, 2015, Toronto, Ontario.

Szigeti, S., Stevens, A., Tu, R., Jofre, A., Gebhardt, A., Chevalier, F., Lee, J. & Diamond, S. (2014) Output to Input: Concepts for Physical Data Representations and Tactile User Interfaces. Proceedings of CHI14 Works‐in‐Progress (Toronto, ON).

Tangible user interface
Diagram showing 3 people using the table-based tangible user interaface
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Ana Jofre
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Dr. Sara Diamond
Frederico Tomé
Dr. Fanny Chevalier
Embed Video: