Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘data visualization’

21 APRIL, 2009

The Housing Crisis in 3D


What Donkey Kong has to do with the global economic landslide.

Last month, we loved FlowingData‘s 27 visualizations and infographics that shed light on the financial crisis. Today, we’re going even more abstract with subprime — a fantastic 3D piece of visual storytelling that shows us in simple yet crisply graspable terms just how the housing market went haywire. 

And despite the video-gamesque sound design, subprime doesn’t fail to call out the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Our present housing situation is more King Kong than Donkey Kong.

Out of beeple, a delightfully irreverent studio for “audio/video works and art crap.”

15 APRIL, 2009

Exactitudes: Cultural Photo-Anthropological Data Viz


Why you aren’t nearly as unique as you think, or what 12 Japanese school children have to do with 12 homeless people in Rotterdam.

Since 1994, photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek have been trekking the globe together, recording Exactitudes — “exact attitudes” captured in people’s peculiar dress code as an attempt to differentiate themselves from others or identify with a group.

Each “exactitude” consists of twelve distinct portraits structured in a grid. Think of it as street fashion meets cultural anthropology meets data visualization — a visceral exploration of subcultures, group identity and individualism.

French Touch - Bordeaux 2006

Pin-ups - London 2008

Backpackers - Rotterdam 2008

The series is also an ethnographic and temporal portrait of our collectively individual identity across time and space — the big bags of 2008, New York’s yupster girls, the tracksuits of Japanese schoolkids, the soccer jersey fetish of European teenage boys, even “street style” at its rawest in the face of the homeless.

Gabberbitches - Rotterdam 1996

Miss Shapes - London 2008

We see the Rotterdam-based duo’s work as a collage of contradictions — between individuality and uniformity, between street style and studio setting, between self and group — that make you question our cultural givens and our self-conception as unique personas.

For a condensed version of the 15-year-long project, check out the hardcover book, which features a selection of 60 hand-curated exactitudes. Or, save yourself $261.20 and explore Exactitudes online for a fascinating glimpse into the cultural crowd of selves.

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08 APRIL, 2009

Bicycle Built for 2,000


Why 2,088 people are singing Stanley Kubrick’s praises for $0.06 each.

Here’s a blast from the Brain Pickings past — remember Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? What about data artist extraordinaire Aaron Koblin? After his brilliant Sheep Market project, Koblin is back with another fantastic crowdsourced art effort.

Bicycle Built for 2,000 is an audio-visual collage of 2,088 voice recordings collected via Mechanical Turk. Each person is asked to listen to a tiny sound clip, then imitate what they heard, without any knowledge of the full context of the clip. The voices are stitched together to sing “Daisy Bell” — a symbolic choice, as this is the first example of musical speech synthesis in history. (It also happens to be the song HAL is singing at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

You can click on each note to view the waveform of its various iterations and hear how different people “sang” it.

Participants came from 71 different countries. Each singer was paid $0.06 — not quite the Broadway gig, but we find it utterly MoMA-worthy, so it more than pays in street cred.