Here's What Classic Paintings Look Like as Data

In 'Data Visualization,' Yousuke Ozawa reinterprets masterpieces by van Gogh, Magritte, and more as code art.

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Jan 7 2015, 3:15pm

"Son of Man" by René Magritte. Images courtesy the artist

Artist Yousuke Ozawa peels back the unseen layers of the Internet in his latest image set, Data Vizualization, a reinterpretation of famous classical paintings as the basic code that comprises them when they become digital files. Traditionally, data visualization takes complex statistics and information and interprets it as pleasing, easily understood visuals, but unlike infographic designers like David McCandless, the author of Information is Beautiful, or Rahul Bhargava, an MIT engineer who laser engraves data visualizations onto vegetables, Ozawa's Data Visualization reverses that process, obscuring recognizable paintings in a sea of numbers, letters, and symbols.

"Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh.

"Initially the idea came to me one day at my friend`s house where their kids had a playdate," the Ogilvy & Mather art director tells The Creators Project. One child was astounded by the sight of a physical, tangible photograph. "That was the first time I realized most art that people see these days is through a screen. One day I visited a local art gallery to see paintings I was interested in. In the paintings I saw the details which a pixel based-screen can never replicate, such as the texture of the paint, canvas, and brush strokes. And that gave me a thought about what we are actually seeing through a screen, which is data."

"Liberty Leading the People" by Eugène Delacroix

Ranging from René Magritte's Son of Man to Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix, Ozawa gleaned JPEGs of the paintings from simple image searches, then converted the results into URI data. He framed the seemingly meaningless symbols for gallery exhibitions, relegating the iconic source paintings to the small description box beside each codified artwork. The overall effect astutely pinpoints an awareness of the internet's basic infrastructure in a way not unlike Ozawa's previous work, Satellite Font, a portmanteau typeface made using shapes found on Google Maps. Ultimately, as the artist calls attention to the forms in which we consume information, he celebrates them, elegantly presenting mediums as messages and messages as mediums.

"Nighthawks" be Edward Hopper

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt

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