Representing Emotions Using Lines

To bridge the communication gap to express emotions among people of all cultures

Thesis conceptualization

Prime Objective

Creating a global language that could be felt and would help to understand the meaning of a story just by looking at it. In simpler words, my aim is to create an emotion visualization of data to help convey a deeper understanding of the same. My approach is to create patterns that relate to a mood or emotion. These patterns are created using lines with variations in stroke and structure to create a desired pattern.


I was always fond of creating doodles from memories I had about my past. I would create these doodles using the striking objects from that moment or objects from the location I was present in at that moment. What lacked in these doodles were the emotions which were the key element that needed to be represented.

I began experimenting with lines and created a bunch of patterns for various emotions. Initially, I came up with random strokes and patterns based on my own belief about different emotions. For example, I made a doodle on my first date which had the important elements like the beach, rocks and the train journey. Each element from bottom to top were marked with lines creating patterns related to an emotion. The elements were placed from bottom to top narrating a timeline for that day.

Problems Faced

The numerous lines having different strokes and patterns were creating a confusion to understand a specific emotion. Introducing a narration of stories using a bunch of different lines to represent an emotion was not working since it became too much information for a person to understand. Each line I created was based on what I felt and created the same for different emotions. Due to numerous amount of emotions and each having its own line form created a massive number of lines and multiple amounts patterns.

Dealing with this huge chunk of patterns created a confusion in understanding the real meaning of data. This is because, a person was unable to concentrate on an emotion as the other chunk of lines would interfere in its understanding.

Possible Solutions

Categorizing into six sets of lines and using a combination of these lines to represent a story/event. Keeping a clean and easy to understand canvas so that it could be easily understood/perceived by the viewer. A user’s primary focus would be on a specific set of related emotions.

Clustering a pile of emotions into relatable data sets helped in minimizing the confusion caused with the pile of patterns. This way a user could understand the relatable emotions by completely diving into the patterns created by the respective lines.

Another solution that I used was to help create comparisons between two patterns. This way a person can figure out the difference between the two which also helps in forming a sense of a good or bad feeling.

Project: Autobiography

I took up the challenge to represent my life using these patterns and express the emotions lying in parts of my life through the different kinds of relatable lines. This project served as a perfect example for expressing the different kinds of emotions in the form of lines. The stories expressed are personal and the emotions that lie in it are felt only by me and to speak to world using lines as a universal language was my aim behind this project.

I chose to use my fingerprint as a base for all the stories and began altering the lines in the fingerprint. I chose to use my thumb print which was first stamped, scanned and then traced using Adobe Illustrator. The next step was to alter each line of the fingerprint to express the emotion for the relative story.

Each fingerprint denoted a story of my life and this story was written under the fingerprint but was hidden by a thermo-chromic paint. I made use of blow dryers during the exhibition which helped to throw heat on the paint. On receiving heat, the paint disappears and the hidden story can be read. I decided to hide the story as I wanted it to be a secondary mode of communication and keep the fingerprint as a primary mode to communicate with the audience.

Following are a few of the gallery photos

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