Glossopticon is a research project that explores information visualisation design for immersive virtual environments. It sits within the wider fields of linguistics, anthropology and digital humanities.
A key component of Glossopticon is a virtual reality visualisation of over 1,500 languages of the Pacific region. Languages are mapped by location and number of speakers and viewers can fly through a spatialised mix of the recorded voices of many of the languages. Created by Andrew Burrell and Rachel Hendery (Western Sydney University), with support from Nick Thieberger (Melbourne University), this output drew upon the PARADISEC linguistic archive and was part of a larger investigation of Pacific languages funded by the Centre of Excellence for Language Dynamics through a Transdisciplinary and Innovation Grant.
One of the primary aims of the Glossopticon project is to present this data to a wider audience. It was first shown at the Canberra Museum and Gallery in the exhibition Memory of the World, part of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme for safeguarding documentary heritage.
The project is now moving into a new phase, driven by research-through-design as well as more conventional methodologies. Burell and Hendery, in association with Waves of Words: Mapping and Modelling Australia’s Pacific Past, are exploring innovative design approaches to the presentation of linguistic relationships that showcase how social and cultural interactions are reflected in language.