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Design: Explorations III

29 July 2016
As mentioned in the previous blog, Explorations II, my research has guided my design process toward developing a system in which the 5 variables used to track Emotion are based on metaphor.


In this system, I also wanted to focus on a more notational way of tracking. Some of my inspiration has been drawn from experimental music notation, shorthand and sign writing (written form of sign language).

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Labanotation developed by Rudolf Laban used for recording and analysing human movement.

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Experimental musical notation, John de Cesare.

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Various shorthand systems presented by Dr. David Diringer (1900-1975) in his The Alphabet (Diringer 1968, 2: 445).


Human purposes typically require us to impose artificial boundaries that make physical phenomena discrete just as we are: entities bounded by a surface.

Lakoff and Johnson, 2003

As Emotion is a concept, and therefore intangible, I use Ontological metaphors as a basis for the system. Ontological metaphors are necessary for even attempting to deal rationally with our experiences (Lakeoff and Johnson, 2003). In giving an Emotion experience a constrained space to be visualized, it becomes easier to identify specific aspects of it. I believe that if we can identify the variance in the ways we feel an Emotion, say, through the measurement variables of Intensity, Control, Valence, Conduciveness and Arousal, then we can better understand and deal with Emotion.

We feel lost when emotions take over. We don’t know what is going on and we have no control over what is happening.

Köveces 2000

In his paper, The Emotional Control Metaphors, Camelo Pérez Rull collects the cognitive and cultural models from Layoff and Kövesces in order to provide a basis of our attempt to conceptualize how we control our Emotions. These models are based off the linguistic expressions we use to talk about Emotion and the first of them has influenced this notational system:

  • The Body is a Container for the Emotions

From there, I used Orientational metaphors on top of the Ontological metaphor (Body is a Container for Emotion) to create the grounding for the 5 measurement variables:

    • The more Intense something is, the more the notation in the container is “filled up.”

    • As Arousal is measured by the physical response to the Emotion, I use speed lines, a technique found in anime and manga comics indicating trembling due to anger, shock or astonishment. The more Aroused one is, the more speed lines are noted on the container.

    • The more Control over an Emotion one has, the higher the notation is in the container.

    • The more positive an Emotion is, the more outward the notation moved on the container, the more negative, the more inward.

    • This one was the most difficult to develop a metaphor for. Here I used the concept that when one is achieved their goals, they “hit their targets.” The more Conducive an emotion is, the closer the notation is to the centre of the container.


I began designing with a shape as a container.
First a square:

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Conduciveness in this iteration were strike lines on the left side of each container. The more lines there were, the more “barriers” there were between you and your goal, and the less conducive the Emotion was. Arousal in this case not yet speed lines, but the amount of circles stacked under the container. Because of lack of clarity and weakness of these two variables visually, I moved to using a circle as a container.

A circle gives a better visual to satisfy the metaphor CONDUCIVENESS IS ON-TARGET, as the circle is the shape of a bullseye. At this point, AROUSAL IS SPEED was also represented through the technique of speed lines.

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The final legend:

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An example of this notational system with tracked Emotion data:

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Next Post

Design: Explorations II

28 July 2016
For this set of design iterations, I wanted to focus more on one specific function of graphics: processing information. When optimized for processing information, a graphic, must be memorizable for comparison and comprehensive for choices (Bertin, 1983).