Data as Art

One of the more experimental applications of data visualisation is when it blurs the line between science and art. Here are a few of my favourite data art projects.

City Lights at Night


Source: Doug McCune

What can you learn about a city by mapping various metrics so that they look like lights from above? Apparently, a lot! Mostly San Francisco (and a little bit of New York), these images map crime, graffiti, trees planted and street lights (aka the LightBrite version). For everyone who has looked out of the window of a plane at night and wondered what was going on in the city below.

The Wilderness Downtown


Source: Chris Milk

A bit like an iDoc, this interactive piece is set to an Arcade Fire song, and is an experimental use of the Google Chrome browser. I won’t spoil the surprise, just play with it and see… but make sure you’re on a decent internet connection as it’s a bit grabby with your bandwidth.

Whale Song Explained


Source: Michael Deal

A weird and wonderful visual representation of whale sounds.



Source: Sensory Maps

Don’t you wish we could transmit scents through the internet?…maybe it’s just me.
In any case, if you’ve ever wondered what Amsterdam (and no, it’s not what you think), Edinburgh, Milan, Glasgow, Newport (Rhode Island) or Paris smells like, here’s your chance to find out. Researchers mapped cities according to smells. The graphics are gorgeous.

The Source

Source: Greyworld

This sculpture was commissioned for the London Stock Exchange. Its spheres move based on market activity, in real-time.

We Feel Fine


Source: Jonathan Harris

This is an emotion-sensing application that scans social networks and blogs for real-time mentions of feelings. It then places these instances in a visual display, showing the prevalence of these emotional states in real-time.

Network Effect


Source: Jonathan Harris

This iDoc is a commentary on the impact of the internet on our lives. It attempts to highlight the time-wasting activities that we do on the internet in place of real-world interaction. It randomly displays videos clips based on different activities – but your time is limited. Depending on where you live, your lifespan will be converted to minutes, and that is the number of minutes you can spend on the site in a day.

, , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply