Christian Groß was given an assignment in class – to take existing data and use it to create a visual or audio representation, using the coding framework, Processing. That is how the SMS to Paper Airplanes project came to exist.

Groß tapped into his long distance relationship with his girlfriend, using the SMS messages that they sent back and forth from September 2010 to April 2011. The visual representation of the SMS message that Groß chose was the paper airplane.

Groß explains his choice on his blog, saying “The challenge was to find a medium, which is variable and able to visualize the information of the text messages, but at the same time allows to keep the content private. For me the paper airplane was the perfect image for this scenario, because the text messages as well as travelling by plane are the most common ways for us to cover the distance.”

Each paper airplane was created depending on certain criteria.

GC1 520x346 Visualizing SMS messages using paper airplanes

The size of the paper airplane was relative to the length of the message, while the number of folds was relative to the amount of positive emotional words in the message. The final placement of the paper airplanes depended on the time the message was sent and its emotional value.

GC3 Visualizing SMS messages using paper airplanes

The result was a whimsical display of 369 messages in the delicate form of paper airplanes.

GC2 Visualizing SMS messages using paper airplanes