06 Feb 2013

First up, The Art of Reproduction by the duo Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, a project done in 2011. This project might be considered a unique curatorial perspective – the internet as a museum.

Viégas and Wattenberg gathered up as many digital copies of images of a select few famous artworks they could. Then, they coded up a program that would construct a mosaic out of components of each reproduction, forming a new whole imitative of the original painting/photograph. The huge variances in color are astounding. Even dimensions and proportions do not remain constant, thanks to small croppings of the images here and there. The resulting visualization is a concise observation of the innaccuracies of (digital) artistic reproduction.



Next is a visualization that I feel more ambivalent about. Note that with the current goings on in the US I am quite invested in the topics of gun violence and gun legislation. I was even considering trying to tackle them for a while as part of this project. That said, Perioscopic’s U.S. Gun Murders in 2010 seems to go against the normal grain of infovis somewhat.

The graph consists of curved lines over an axis representing time. Each line is a person’s life. At some point the lines switch from yellow-colored to gray-colored, representing the point in their life where they were killed by someone with a gun. The rest of the trajectory represents the life they could have lived. Now, for me the problem is this last bit, the blatant speculation on the part of Perioscopic. While the graph is less visually striking without such a feature, it seems a tad dishonest or ill-considered. Should infovis consist solely of hard facts? I always thought so.


This last one is really cool, though it isn’t strictly infovis in that it references no concrete data set. It does, however, help us to visualize the ever present but always invisible electomagnectic fields, radio waves, etc. They physically affect our world, never seen, never heard, but integrated into our surrounding space.

The light sculptures that Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby created in this series, Immaterials, have no real tangibility, of course. But they are beautiful, and certainly a good use of an old technque.