Experimental Visualization of Dynamics of the European Parliament in 3D


Anthony Judge – Laetus in Praesens – TRANSCEND Media Service

A 9-fold enneagram of political groups embedded in a 12-fold symbolic icosahedron in virtual reality.

Produced on the occasion of the reconfiguration of political groupings following Europe-wide elections — coinciding with an “optics” enhancing visit of Donald Trump to Europe — raising the question of the necessary “optics” enhancement of the European Union


It is surprising to note that an institution with a deep commitment to new information technology chooses to represent the structure of the European Parliament in the form of a two-dimensional hemicircle in which its 9 political groupings are indicated by distinctively coloured segments. This is consistent with the hemicircle of seats for the 700-plus Members of Parliament (MEPs) frequently depicted in photographs. Far less evident is the nature of the communication between those seated in that way, from whom formal consensus is supposed to emerge following negotiation and voting. There is little commentary regarding the efficacy of such communication, given the time constraints, and the numbers either desiring to speak or to inhibit the speaking time of others. The challenges of information overload, absenteeism, voter apathy and related issues are another matter. The potential role of online communication and voting are also a separate matter (The Challenge of Cyber-Parliaments and Statutory Virtual Assemblies, 1998; Dubious Rejection of Electronic Voting, 2016).

The question addressed here is whether new levels of insight into the complex communication dynamics of such a structure could emerge from their representation in 3D in virtual reality, with which Europeans are increasingly engaged — and whose development the European Commission variously promotes. The exercise follows from a similar concern with respect to NATO and the Pentagon (Envisaging NATO Otherwise — in 3D and 4D? Potentially hidden faces of global strategy highlighted through polyhedra, 2017).

The particular approach taken here focuses on the pattern of political groupings — 9 in the previous session of the Parliament. This focus follows from a separate speculative argument regarding a systemic understanding of their relationship (9-fold Political grouping within the European Parliament as a “Hundred Acre Wood”? 2019). There the concern was with the coherence of the pattern of systemic functions those groups distinctively constituted (Enneagram roles and connectivity in Hundred Acre Wood, 2019).

The 9-fold enneagram pattern considered in that exploration was the focus of previous exercises in 3D depiction in virtual reality (Use of virtual reality for 3-dimensional articulation of connectivity, 2014; Imagining the nature of cognitive “flight” in terms of the enneagram, 2014). The following argument is a further development of the models and animations in those exercises. The more general concern is with systemic connectivity in a seemingly fragmented psychosocial context, as argued separately (Time for Provocative Mnemonic Aids to Systemic Connectivity? Possibilities of reconciling the “headless hearts” to the “heartless heads”, 2018).

Aspects of this argument are discussed further with respect to emerging technical possibilities (Visualization Enabling Integrative Conference Comprehension: global articulation of future-oriented 3D technology, 2018). This was prepared on the occasion of the International Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis (FTA2018): future in the making of the European Commission Joint Research Centre (Brussels, 2018).

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