What a French invention from 1877 has to do with superb modern animation.
A couple of weeks ago, a fantastic video for Moray McLaren‘s We Got Time made waves with its brilliant in-camera animation magic. It’s pure creative genius — despite the utter visual indulgence, it isn’t stop-motion, no computer super-imposing was used, and everything you see is exactly what rolled off the camera.
The animations in the side-on views were produced by the camera capturing the moving reflections from the mirrored carousels, and the animations in the top-down views were created by matching the cameras frame rate to that of spinning record.
Beyond being a pure joy to watch, We Got Time is a testament to our belief that creativity is simply the genius of combining existing resources — knowledge, ideas, inspiration — in completely revolutionary ways: In this case, a vintage Praxinoscope device and old-school hand-drawn illustration.
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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.
158 years of the cultural dialog, replayed and rewritten in visual language.
Newspapers have long been a paradise of visual information — from the early 20th century isotype language pioneered by Otto Neurath, to the elaborate vintage infographics we so love. So imagine our excitement when The New York Times announced Times Open last week, an open API initiative encouraging the development of applications around The Times‘ enormous vault of data.
If you swim in the shallow end of the geek pool, fear not: Here’s the Cliff’s Notes on API — it stands for application programing interface and is pretty much what shapes the behavior of one application as it interacts with others. For example, a WordPress plugin that displays your latest tweets on your blog uses the Twitter API to work the magic.
But what makes the NYT development particularly important is that the API opens up data from the paper’s entire 158-year archive — from the Civil War to the moon landing to the latest Radiohead album reviews — allowing developers and artists alike to do just about anything with it.
And they already are.
Vancouver-based generative software artist Jer Thorp has done a series of visualizations exploring the social conversation around certain terms as reflected in The Times over the last 27 years.
From the gossip on sex and scandal, to a face-off between the most iconic superheroes, to the increasing anxiety about global warming, the series is a visual documentary of our collective concern over issues big and small, the kind of mundane chatter and momentous movements that define a culture.
San Diego artist and developer Tim Schwartz is digging even deeper with visualizations of history that use The New York Times’ entire 158-year corpus of data. His interface plots terms over time, exploring how the cultural dialog has changed as our society evolves. It’s amazing to think some of our cultural givens were virtually nonexistent less than a century ago — like, for example, homosexuality, practically unspoken about publicly until the 70′s.
But perhaps most fascinating is how this changes and almost reverses the relationship between newspapers and data visualization — traditionally, infographics in publishing are visual representations of extraneous information that complements the newspaper’s depiction of the outside world, its message. This — the visualization of meta-data about the newspaper itself — is pretty much the opposite, an introspective analysis of the medium as it shapes the message.
If you find yourself intrigued by and drawn to this world of data visualization, do check out this excellent introduction to it, a wonderful find by our friends at BBH Labs.
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