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Dan Goods, NASA Visual Strategist
Apollo 11 stamp by Paul Calle
"Hidden Light," Dan Goods for NASA JPL, 2008.
Image credit: Dan Goods

Apollo 11 crew pencil sketch
"Hidden Light," Dan Goods for NASA JPL, 2008.
Image credit: Dan Goods

Beneath the Surface, interactive installation by Dan Goods
"Beneath the Surface," Dan Goods for NASA JPL, 2012.
Image credit: Dan Goods

Dan Goods, NASA Visual Strategist
Dan Goods, Visual Strategist, NASA JPL.
Image credit: Dan Goods

Images used with permission.
All rights reserved.

What is a visual strategist?

Dan Goods wants you to experience something beautiful, meaningful and profound. He wants to alter your way of observing the world. Dan Goods is a Visual Strategist for NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles. He conceives new ways of communicating ideas, thoughts and mission discoveries visually, in a beautiful and seamless fashion.

As a visual strategist, Goods makes scientific information intuitively comprehensible to the public. He translates the complex and abstract work of NASA JPL scientists into real-world forms, experiences and sounds. Using a multitude of platforms and media, Goods makes new and complex scientific concepts tangible and understandable.

"Hidden Light:" The Kepler Mission

A 2008 installation, "Hidden Light", elegantly demonstrates one of the complexities of deep-space research. NASA scientists are attempting to discover earth-like planets that orbit other stars. Since there are millions of other stars, a major challenge has been to find planets that are hidden from NASA telescopes by the light of the bigger, brighter stars. NASA's Kepler mission has solved this problem and found more than a thousand possible planets, and new technology in the coming decades will enable NASA scientists to find even more. "Hidden Light" shows us what the difficulty is, and how NASA scientists have worked with it. Dan Goods states:

To communicate these ideas I project a movie onto a large wall/surface. At the same time I project a brighter pixelated movie that is reminiscent of the sun. This projected light is so bright it washes out the movie from the other projector. The “sun like” projector is about waist height so that as soon as you walk in front of the light, the persons shadow hits the screen and reveals the video inside their shadow. The more people inside, the more of the video they can see.

(from directedplay.com/hiddenlight.html)

Seeing is believing. Science sometimes requires a leap of faith - believing in what the hard science tells you, even if it seems strange. The real-world representation of new ideas by visual strategists like Dan Goods unites faith in science with an accessible and engaging reality.

"Data + Art"

The intersection of science and art in a Dan Goods installation is seamless and elegant. One example was showcased in a 2009 exhibition called "Data + Art," curated by Goods and David Delgado at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA). The introduction to the exhibition reads:

Every moment data is collected, filtered, organized, searched, visualized, sonified, filed, archived and forgotten. The following artists and scientists explore these aspects of data in new and beautiful ways--some for the sake of understanding, others for personal expression. By combing through the vast amount of information collected every moment, they reveal to us the hidden stories about the natural world and the human condition.

(from directedplay.com/dataandart.html)

"Beneath the Surface:" NASA's Juno Mission to Jupiter

First shown at the Project Room at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, "Beneath the Surface" is a Dan Goods interactive piece that uses fog and special lighting to draw viewers into the experience of exploring a gas giant planet through layers of cloud. Visitors can investigate a visually obscured environment in the same way that NASA's Juno spacecraft is designed to do it: with infrared light.

By using the camera on a cell phone, viewers can see flashes of infrared "lightning" beneath the surface of a water vapor cloud. Dan Goods explains:

This installation for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory consists of a large cloud that hides infrared lights. Infrared light is invisible to the naked eye, but is visible to many cell phone cameras. Just as the Juno mission uses special detectors to peer through the clouds of Jupiter and reveal the depths of its storms, you can "see" lightning storms underneath this dynamic surface.

(from directplay.com/beneath_the_surface.html)

Information is everywhere. We now live in an age when limitless information is available with a few clicks of a computer mouse. Information and data bring reason to our lives. Data defines what we hold to be true, and what we consider fictional. Hard data, like hard science, can be viewed through any lens. The information we take into our lives is only bound by the limits of our imagination.

Through his position at NASA JPL and his other commissions, Goods is able to let his audience see, touch, and experience abstract ideas. He is able to inspire us in a profound and meaningful way. His work opens our eyes to our surroundings, and lets us find beauty in the revealed mysteries of science.

Watch a Video

Videos about "Beneath the Surface" by Dan Goods:

Click Full Screen icon for larger version
"Beneath the Surface," video posted on www.directplay.com. Dan Goods, NASA JPL
Image credit: Dan Goods

Read and See More:

› "Light/Shadow" by Dan Goods

→ Experiments with aerogel

→ Explore more installations by Dan Goods