When Code and Visuals Meet Music: Ghostly International Collaborative at Eyebeam

Visual Music Collaborative 2010 from Aaron Meyers on Vimeo. Aaron Meyers and Aaron Koblin, each with their own background in expressive code and the connection of music and visuals, offered a terrific workshop last month at the Eyebeam research center here in New York. They involved Ghostly International, a label that has enlisted designers, interactive visuals, and even iPhone apps as ways of exploring its catalog through visual media, in live performance and private listening. The video at top is the first wrap-up of what went on, and nicely packages some of the collisions of ideas and techniques that took …

READ MORE →

Sonification: Thermonuclear Testing, Made into Music, 1945-1998

Visualization often wins out over sonification when it comes to making data clear. But sound has one key advantage: it can make time and scale apparent, by tapping directly into our perception of forward time. Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto, born well into the Nuclear Age in 1959, uses that property to chilling effect. The sounds in “1945-1998” are made still more unsettling in their rendering as tranquil, musical sounds rather than explosions. Quietly, World War III is waged not in wartime, but in the 2053 nuclear explosions that erupt mainly in thermonuclear tests (led, ironically, by the United States). This …

READ MORE →

London, Reinterpreted as Interactive Mural, Built by Field, Light Surgeons

LDN24 from FIELD on Vimeo. My experience of London tomorrow will be somewhat “virtual,” as I spend a few hours on a layover at Heathrow. For a more artistic reinterpretation of the data that’s bound up with one of the world’s great cities, though, here’s a terrific installation: LDN24 is a public art installation for the Museum of London. It draws filmic impressions and the facts and figures of London life into a picture of 24 hours in the life of the city. The Light Surgeons – Production FIELD – Data Visualisation more info at field.io/project/ldn24 documentation by Saskia Schmidt, …

READ MORE →

Flight Patterns Visualization, Revisited in a Volcanic Age

Aaron Koblin’s 2006 Flight Patterns was one of the works that helped people to understand how data visualization, in motion, could matter – and why Processing was a powerful tool for making data visual. That, in turn, landed the project everywhere from Wired Magazine to the Museum of Modern Art, and helped raise the visibility of other data visualization work, as well. But while the various iterations of Flight Patterns were aesthetically beautiful and revealed some of the logic of airplane traffic and flight approaches, there was no immediate, real, everyday application. What a difference a volcano makes. Countless traveler …

READ MORE →

Depressing Project of the Day: Stock Market, Set to Music with Microsoft Songsmith

I’ve been talking to folks about sonifying or music-i-fying data a lot lately; I even created a soothing, gamelan-like melody from my Gmail spam folder at South by Southwest last spring. But this particular example is, well … special. I hesitate to share this, because a) YouTube numbers suggest you may have seen it already and b) it’s pretty depressing. On the other hand, it’s not like the fact the economy is depressing is news, exactly, so I suggest we employ the time-tested coping method that is laughter. Thanks (?) to Paul Norheim for this. It also suggests a pleasing …

READ MORE →

Radiohead House of Cards Data: Time Lapse Rendering in Real Legos

When the creative team behind Radiohead’s new video for House of Cards released 3D imaging data of Tom Yorke’s head, I’m sure they looked forward to finding out what people would do with it. I’m guessing one thing they didn’t expect was for someone to go manually through the data and painstakingly reproduce it in actual, physical Legos, one … brick … at … a … time, then make it into motion again with time lapse photography (okay, with a fair bit of fakery and digital legos added, though quite nicely). Be sure to go watch the high-quality version on …

READ MORE →

Radiohead Makes House of Cards Video with 3D Plotting, Processing; Gives You the Data

Who would have imagined seeing a music video on Google Code? Welcome to the new age of data visualization. Radiohead’s new video uses 3D images capture from two scanners – one a close-proximity 3D scanner from Geometric Informatics, another a multiple-laser array for the “exterior scenes” rotating in a 360-degree pattern. That yields just data, not anything you can look at, so the artists created the video itself using the open-source tool we love so much, Processing (site | CDM tag). Cool so far. But the interesting part is that the tools and data are open-sourced and/or freely available: View …

READ MORE →

Musicifying Data? Spam Rendered in MIDI

Here’s a brief video snippet I discovered someone took at a talk I did at this year’s South by Southwest, with interaction design pioneer Joy Mountford (formerly Yahoo, Apple). We were talking about the idea of “data as art”, which happened to coincide neatly with the Design and the Elastic Mind show at MOMA, featuring several works from Joy’s recently-disbanded Design Innovation Group team at Yahoo. The audience response to the work Joy showed was really overwhelming, as search activity danced around the globe and photos came to life in three dimensions. And it was nice to be able to …

READ MORE →

Weather Report: Multi-Touch + Surface Temperature = Music on Earth

For an increasing number of artists, data is becoming the raw material for creative work. Most of this has focused on visual media, but in the digital space, you can just as easily use sound. Sometimes the results are aesthetic only; sometimes they tell you something about the numbers being sonified. But either way, sound is a powerful medium. “Weather Report” is a multi-touch instrument that makes music out of surface temperature data. The results feel a bit like US weather agency NOAA gone IDM. Fire up the multi-touch table, and you can “read” temperature data as sound. Co-creator Jordan …

READ MORE →

SxSW: A New Web, From Live Data to Continuous, Visual Interfaces

SearchBurst, which visualizes “burst” effects on Yahoo! Search, as world events impact search queries. Built in Processing by the yHaus team (Aaron Koblin specifically), with code/support from our friend and code hero Toxi, and Mike Chang. Imagine VJing with a stream of live snapshots from partygoers — or playing live data from the Web on email statistics as though it were a musical/visual instrument. The ability of tools like Processing to make numbers fluid opens up new interfaces to the storehouses of data on the Web — but also makes them friendly to artists and visualists. I’ll be doing a …

READ MORE →