Margot Trudell / OCAD University
The posters make me nod approvingly; the website makes me exclaim, “OMG!” – Kim Hyungjin
The attempt to explain the universe “scientifically” is as much interesting as it’s impossible. – Sulki and Min Choi
The concept is outstanding, and the data is well organized. – Eunkyung Jeon
OMG SPACE is a project of infographics, detailing humankind’s physical exploration of space. It was my thesis project during my final year at OCAD University in Toronto. We’ve explored space through observation for centuries already, but since the last century we’ve been sending hundreds of probes out to finally explore space physically. My project illustrates this accomplishment and particularly emphasizes exactly how much we’ve done and how much we’ve accomplished – it’s pretty incredible.
OMG SPACE is made up of two parts: printed infographics and the website www.omgspace.net2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
I wanted to really communicate to viewers the scale of what we’ve managed to do. That meant two things: showing the number of probes we’ve sent out and to where, and what kind of literal, physical distance we’ve covered, because both are impressive. I had to make it easy for people to understand and make the numbers appear as big as they really are – I wanted people to literally SEE what it means to have over a hundred moon missions under our belts. The age group was pretty broad but primarily young to middle-aged adults of both genders; everybody can appreciate this.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
I brought my own personal interest to the project: I love space, I always have, both in fiction and in reality. I was amazed enough with space to conceive of this in the first place; OMG SPACE wouldn’t be what it is if I hadn’t brought myself into the project. I also had some knowledge of space beforehand which made me choose the direction I did. Although I learned a lot more as I did research having a clear, realistic idea of the size and grandeur of space to start helped me bring it to it’s final place.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
NASA’s website was my main resource for facts and dates, although there were a couple other books I consulted, especially Carl Sagan’s Cosmos which I used more to inform my own perspective on space than to gather hard information. Putting together the website involved a lot of research into numbers for the distances of each planet from the sun (I had to average the perigee and apogee of each planets orbit) and used a formula to convert the kilometers I was working with into pixels so I had a page that wasn’t too unreasonably long; the website ended up at over 19 million pixels long. Accuracy of information was paramount, and I did a lot of research to ensure that I understood everything correctly and was illustrating it accurately. I went through a few layouts to get the infographics right, and the website required a lot of testing to ensure that it worked properly technically and visually. I consulted with my thesis teacher and fellow design students every week on the project, showing them what I’d accomplished the week before, and getting feedback and suggestions.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
My greatest hope would be for OMG SPACE to revive the general public’s interest in space and exploration like it was in the years before the first moon landing during the cold war, except without the uncomfortable political climate. After so many decades of launching things into space and getting incredible photos and data the fascination has worn off for many people and I think this is mainly due to the information not being presented in an interesting way. With the website, people already know the sun is bigger than anything else if our solar system, but when they see it fill their screen and go beyond the edges, they finally understand just what all those scientists were talking about and what those grade-school illustrations of the solar system failed to do: they truly see the vastness of space even without our tiny little part of it. And with the infographics, people know that we’ve sent robots to Mars, but they rarely realize just how many and who sent them and how many of those missions failed, because space exploration is the farthest thing from easy. It gives people true understanding, it teaches them something and makes them appreciate how incredible science and our technology are when paired together.
But mostly I just hope it impacts them in a way that makes them say “Oh my God”.