Below is a case study on using Grasshopper and several other plugins to generate visual representations of (social) data on a map. This method along with some additions to query and pull social data automatically and possibly the functionality of tying directly back into Google Earth to update the imagery will provide very useful to inform us of how social systems shift on local and macro levels.
“Google Earth presents an intuitive, dynamic platform for understanding spatial context. Combined with a parametric modeler likeGrasshopper, Google Earth presents complex datasets relative to geo-positioning in a way that is understandable. Facilitated by GH plugin gHowl, GH meshes and lines can be exported in Google Earth’s .kml format to be viewed by Google Earth or an enabled web browser.
Creating legible geometry for Google Earth is challenging, but one type of geometry I’ve experimented with is GH’s metaballs, which are about as old school as it gets for 3D curvature. Metaballs, as described by Yoda (Greg Lynn), are “defined as a single surface whose contours result from the intersection and assemblage of the multiple internal fields that define it.” (Lynn, Blobs, Journal of Philosophy and the Visual Arts 1995). This aggregation of internal fields can provide an intuitive understanding of various contextual forces relative to the spatial context of a site. While GH metaballs are only curves and not meshes / surfaces you can easily use a delaunay mesh to begin to create a mesh.
This tutorial will walk through the process of creating metaballs from Geo coordinates. I’m using a map I created with Elk that is based off of Open Street Maps info, if you’re interested in doing something similar look here.
Just click on the images below if you’d like to see them in more detail.
Start by positioning your Geo coordinates in GH space through gHowl’s Geo To XYZ module.”