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A Thousand Words: Advanced Visualization for the Humanities


Visualization uses computers to find patterns and make connections that normally cannot be seen. This project will develop the software tools, skills, and knowledge base to allow humanities researchers to use visualization - specifically on high-resolution displays powered by supercomputers – to perform novel research.


The tools that are currently available for visualization on high-resolution displays are primarily targeted at scientists, and because of that, the tools can be complicated and ill suited to the needs of humanities scholars. To address this issue, we have chosen a programming language called Processing as a platform on which to build visualizations and visualization tools in collaboration with humanities scholars.

Processing makes it easy to create simple interactive "sketches" that combine text, video, 3D graphics, animation, sound, and more. However, like most software, Processing is not currently capable of running on ultra-high-resolution display clusters. The results of this start up project will enable researchers anywhere to use Processing in conjunction with tiled displays at universities, museums and research centers.

Our long-term goal with this project is to create the world's most advanced platform for humanities visualization. We aim to create software tools that will enable a new class of scholars from the humanities to use high-resolution displays and advanced computing to create visualizations, interactive maps, and multimedia works at a scale and resolution never before possible.

Massive Pixel Environment (MPE)
We've developed a free and open-source software library called Massive Pixel Environment that makes it possible to render interactive Processing sketches across distributed computing systems on many displays.

More information and download link here.

Funding Source

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

TACC Staff

Rob Turknett
Digital Media, Arts & Humanities Coordinator

Brandt Westing
Visualization Laboratory Manager
Research Engineering/Scientist Associate II


  • Tanya Clement, UT Austin, School of Information
  • Matt Cohen, UT Austin, Department of English
  • Paul Resta, UT Austin, College of Education
  • Jason Baldridge, UT Austin, Department of Linguistics

Rob Turknett
Digital Media, Arts & Humanities Coordinator