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 with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Los Angeles. He conceives new ways of communicating ideas, thoughts and mission discoveries through a variety of visual mediums.
One of Goods’ most ambitious projects is eCloud, a dynamic sculpture inspired by the volume and behavior of an idealized cloud, featuring a display to indicate which city the eCloud is responding to, and the current weather status of that city. It is made of polycarbonate tiles that change in opacity in response to real time weather data from around the world. The eCloud exhibit is on permanent display in the San Jose International Airport.
Goods’ 2008 installation, "Hidden Light", is intended to demonstrate the complexities of deep-space research in which space scientists are attempting to discover earth-like planets that orbit other stars. Since there are millions of stars in our galaxy, 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 to solve these technical issues. 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 Hidden Light.
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 Beneath the Surface.
Information is everywhere. We now live in an age when limitless information is available with a few clicks of a computer mouse. 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 wants his audience to 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.