Artist’s Statement

The Mandala visualizer came about as the result of an ongoing effort to make the content and structure of Vectors’ projects more transparent to users. Though the interfaces of these pieces vary widely, in many cases their underlying systems do not. In fact, nearly all projects developed in-house at Vectors run on MySQL databases. As a result, by establishing common metadata standards across projects it’s possible to create visualizations which allow users to directly compare the structure of one project to another. The Mandala visualization is our first attempt at this. Each “table” or type of information in a given project’s database is assigned a ring in the mandala, with its individual instances shown as dots. Links between elements in the database are drawn as lines. By rolling the mouse over the mandala and clicking various points, the user can browse the content of the projects and see exactly how elements are linked to each other. In publicizing this visualization, we hope to help demystify Vectors’ practice and suggest ways in which common frames of reference can be created for evaluating disparate works in the digital humanities.