I-Ching: A Modern Visual Approach

I-Ching is one of the most important books in Chinese history published in the late 9th century BC. While originally used as a divination system, I-Ching is also considered to have a direct inspiration to much of Chinese culture and philosophy including the famous Confucius and the Taoism founder Lao-Tzu.

One unique attribute about I-Ching is that it uses graphic representations- the Hexagrams- to conceal the meaning of its oracular language. It is built around sixty-four hexagrams with a group of six lines for each. Each hexagram has a statement, and each of the six lines also contains comments that correspond to the six stages of a particular situation. The statements and comments provide a vast set of possible interpretations for I-Ching.

This project uses text mining and modern interactive data visualization techniques to reveal new patterning insights of I-Ching from both divinatory and philosophical perspectives. We consider the pattern of hexagrams and their relationships as a binary coding system. The lines in I-Ching describe life as cyclical movement, and each line represents one of the fundamental assertions of the Changes. The line-based symbols indicate the stages and combinations of Yin and Yang- the world of opposites. The implication of the hexagram patterns and their correlations with the commentaries are analyzed through text mining. Based on the keywords associating with the practice of divination, the change dynamic and the principles of the fortune are revealed. Adding an additional dimension (from lines to forms) and another color channel to the graphic symbols can better reveal the sequence structures and the inverse and opposite patterns of the neighboring hexagrams. The micro/macro visualization design strategy offers a comprehensive interactive experience to the viewers, sheds new light on this ancient book, and illuminates its true meaning.