DIY Bertin Matrix
On the occasion of the 25th birthday of the VIS conference and its unprecedented location in France, Charles Perin, Pierre Dragicevic, and Jean-Daniel Fekete organized an exhibit on Jacques Bertin.
The exhibit focused on Jacques Bertin’s work that is less known by the community, including his reorderable physical matrices. In addition to exhibiting some of the original material, I fabricated a large-scale wooden replicate for attendees to try themselves. This work was also published in the CHI'15 workshop "Investigating the Challenges of Making Data Physical".
Manipulating the data
Each row or column is mobile and can slide on the steel rods.
I built this matrix in the Fablab Digiscope. All the prototypes were fabricated using standard Fablab equipment, including an Epilog Mini laser cutter. Overall, the matrix consists of 569 dominos, requiring assembling 4414 wooden parts laser cut from 2.16m2/23.25sqft of plywood. Cutting the wooden pieces took approximately 15 hours and assembling them more than 50 hours. Its cost was approximately 20 Euros for the wood and 100 Euros for the rods. Using magnets makes the matrix become much more expensive. Here are the files to build, reproduce, or modify such a matrix:
- The 3d model of the dominos
- The .ai file containing the cut scheme to create plywood dominos
- The .pdf file containing the cut scheme to create plywood dominos
The wooden matrix was built by first loading the data into the Bertifier software and exporting a 2D matrix visualization in SVG. The SVG file was turned into a digital fabrication design file. Sheets of plywood were laser-cut, laser-engraved and manually assembled. Steel rods were bought in a DYI store and cut. The resulting matrix is a simplified version of the original, but also features a few innovations, such as the use of a magnet mechanism to switch encodings. Each domino is made out of plywood and laser engraved for clear and crisp inscriptions.