The Process of Designing a Data Visualization Project

Way back in the day – about the aughts – I remember when digital art really became a thing. The tools were in abundance, like Processing.org and Flash. Both had the relatively new and approachable ability to actually program an art piece. It was an game changing ability. This brought digital art out of just being an extension of hand techniques into something truly new.

First, random data was used to manifest projects.  We searched through endless machine-made permutations to find something worthy of hanging the word ‘art’ onto. Certainly we got to the point where we realized that there was no soul in random noise, no matter how pretty it looked. Artists then used datasets from real things to build digital works.

Things got a bit more meaningful.  What really happened was a whole new job category was developed. Much like how headphone drum and bass was swallowed up by more dancy-ier explorations, the digital artist was swallowed up by it’s more useful child, data visualization. Suddenly science couldn’t live without art anymore.

Why the devolvement? Well Peter Beshai has written a really great article for Medium that takes the reader through the process of developing some truly amazing visualization of Twitter conversations. I’d say that these visualizations certainly move into the art category.  

Perhaps the best part is that Peter has done us a solid of name dropping and even link dropping the technologies and the theory work that went into the project. Even better, he’s given the article a step-by-step visual record of the path taken to get the end result. Just the sort of article for sharing here at OfPeculiarUtiltiy.

 

Glitch Art – A Nice Introduction

A sample of David Kraftsow’s work

In a bid to be all things to everyone – or at least try and do a good job of cross-pollinating as is the matra of this site – Verge has put up an article that nicely dips the toes in video glitch art. It also tips the hat to David Kraftsow’s Twitter glitch account – which is also cool, check that out.

Link-heavy pages are really like hitting gold for me. This one has a lot of links. While there are some nifty links in the beginning, the real gold of the article is taking you through the how’s and why’s of a certain process for creating video-based glitch art in the bottom half of the article. The certain process listed is called datamoshing. And there’s links to tutorials!

Along the same lines ToolFarm has a page that has even more links to not only tutorials, but an array of tools for the craft.

So, I’m thinking the ultimate awesome thing to do is learn how to auto-magically dump some 4K samples to print…

Robot Art Competition

This was the one intriguing image from the article that got me to read it.

Apparently there’s a robot art competition and it’s a thing and it’s been going on for a while, at least according to VentureBeat. VB puts out a lot of interesting avenues to explore in terms of what people are doing in the field and from the surface, it’s mostly built upon machine learning.

My favorite aspect of the article revolves around someone who’s produced what sounds like a rather elaborate real-world robot to execute his creations,  and the rather long list of software that people are using in this competition all are things I intend to explore further. Hopefully with another blog post as we go down the rabbit hole together.

Personally, while the bulk of the artwork shown in the article appears more than a little derivative to me, I’m sure that this is the phase of ML art similar to the time in the late ’90s where everyone found digital art production.

That was a terrible time where everything that was new basically was somebody either painting just like they did only with digital means (woo! Wacom tablets!!!) or sliced and stacked myriad filters on stuff (have you seen the lates Kai’s Power Tools??) – sort of an Andy Warhol nightmare. I’m sure he’d have laughed.

Then things got really, really good – and all with the same software, well maybe not Kai’s Power Tools.