In preparing data for DataLab and seeing some of the coding that sits behind our work, it often seems that patterns in data produce a form of art. Fortunately, it isn’t just me needing a break. When you start looking, there's lots of inspiring art made from the visualisation of data that go above and beyond the humble interactive CloudCharts. Here are two examples I came across recently.
Flight Patterns was created eight years ago by with.in founder Aaron Koblin. He and colleagues at UCLA used data from the US Federal Aviation Administration to create inspiring imagery from air traffic over North America. The static images are colourful, intriguing and a little spookish, and the animation of the flights look like they could be the inner workings of a hive. The project is a great example of how complex historical data can be used to create a powerful visualisation and message.
The British Antarctic Survey have a selection of twelve ‘Data as Art’ images online at the moment. The one below represents 30 years of data collected since the discovery of the Antarctic Ozone Hole. The abstractness of the image created from the repetitive collection of data, year after year, wouldn’t be out of place in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.
Data as Art #06
Using the ‘Internet of Things’ concept, Loaded Dice have occasionally experimented and developed bespoke software to use live data in interactive art installations ourselves. My favourite was Monitor as it was so very eerie, with eyes opening and following event attendees via RFID sensors embedded in name badges. The output was not only interesting as an installation, but the data collected helped organisers understand footfall around the event.
Lightwave and Cedar took the idea a bit further into the Internet of Things space, as real-time data from sensors in buildings translated into light ripples dependent on movement and activity. The public also interacted with the installations to change the light form by text message, with Lightwave set-up to receive country names that in turn converted the entire canopy into national flags during the football World Cup.
I find it inspiring to see data delivering these types of imaginative outputs as it shows just how versatile and powerful data really can be, and how live and historic data can combine to great effect.
If you are starting to collect or are looking to improve how you collect data, a move away from inefficient data collection processes like databases, spreadsheets and legacy systems to a time-saving, reliable and accessible data collection and reporting solution isn't a bad place to begin. By doing so, you can easily visualise organisational data through charts, infographics or perhaps even as art to streamline and reinforce your internal and external messaging.
Monitor, Cedar and Lightwave were the inspiration of Nicholas Kirk Architects, powered by Loaded Dice bespoke software.