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Your Dating Insecurities Are Big Data Artists' Paint

Beautiful visualizations of human life emerge in the works of data artists Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg.

by The Creators Project
27 June 2015, 3:05pm

[Click to enlarge] Flickr Flow, 2009. "Using an algorithm developed for the WIRED Anniversary visualization, our software calculated the relative proportions of different colors seen in photos taken in each month of the year, and plotted them on a wheel.” 

Data artists Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg invent color platforms and graphics for people to think and talk about data as art. The collaborators are leaders of Google's Big Picture data visualization research group, looking to find invigorating ways for users to understand and explore data. Their artwork has been exhibited at the MoMA and Whitney Museum of American Art.

“To me data art comes out of both fascination and frustration. I felt like I had this very, very powerful medium that wasn’t being used in a more cultural emotional way," Viégas tells The Creators Project. "Data visualization has this history of being very academic or being something that experts use. It looks scientific or it looks official. What I was interested in, was sort of like well I think it’s could be a medium. I think it can be expressive. I think we can look at different sorts of data that is not government data or its not business data."

In Data Becomes Art in Immersive Visualizations, the second video in our ReForm series, you can see and hear these creative coders in action. Now, you can see explore the artworks in our documentary in the images below [Click to enlarge]:

[Click to enlarge] Chromograms, 2006. 
“Chromograms visualize long sequences of text by mapping words to colors.”

[Click to enlarge] Web Seer, 2009.  “Take the phrase "why doesn't he..." Even more revealing is the comparison between what he doesn't do, and what she doesn't. (In these diagrams, the arrow thicknesses show the number of web pages for each question.)”

[Click to enlarge] Windmap, 2012. 
“The wind map shows the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US.” 

[Click to enlarge] history flow, 2003. “The black gashes show points where the article has been deleted and replaced with offensive comments. This type of vandalism turns out to be common on controversial articles.

[Click to enlarge] history flow, 2003.
“The image above, for instance, shows the history of the Wikipedia article on chocolate.”

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