Spinning Awards

Spinning Awards is an interactive and improvisational visualization that makes 150 years of musical awards won by alumni from the New England Conservatory (NEC) accessible through the flick of a finger. The project is a permanent installation at NEC’s new Student Life and Performance Center in Boston.

“Spinning Awards” consists in a matrix of 45 digital cards that each showcase one of NEC’s many award winners. A tap on each of the cards reveals more information about the award. A swipe over the cards, instead, generates a digital wind that twirls the cards revealing new awards at every spin. The project is an improvisational interface based on Kristian Kloeckl’s research on an improvisation-based framework for design. 

The interface does not only react to user interactions but has also a behavior on its own that is somewhat unpredictable and surprises its audience: it improvises. User interactions are recorded, processed, and employed to generate new spinning behaviors that dynamically respond to and extend people’s swipes in real time. When left idle, the system at times recalls past interactions and surprises passersby with swirling winds that animate the awards cards. In this way, the interface reveals new award winners at any time, sharing their accomplishments with interested passersby. The project is installed in the foyer on the second floor of NEC’s new Student Life and Performance Center that will be inaugurated on Thursday, September 14, 2017.


To realize this project institutional data from a variety of sources and supports had to be digitized and formatted in a database. While the system will comprehend all of NEC’s 150 years of awards history when complete, the project also continues to evolve in the future. As NEC students continue to win prestigious awards, their accomplishments will become part of and be made visible through the Spinning Awards project. The project was developed by Kristian Kloeckl with support from Jeffrey Weng and Win Overholser, both Research Assistants at Northeastern University as well as undergraduate student Elise Kolle (’18) and graduate student Micah Gharavi (’17, ’19) from the New England Conservatory.

Spinning Awards is sponsored by a New England Conservatory supporter that had the vision to enable NEC to showcase its rich history of prize winners in major competitions and other equivalent accomplishments to a broader public.