Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘design’

11 NOVEMBER, 2009

Physical Data Art by Willem Besselink

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What a 1950’s house has to do with 125 days in Berlin and the weather in Sarajevo.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a number of artists experimenting with data visualization at the intersection of digital and analog — you may recall Nadeem Haidary and his In-Formed series of physical data art. But Dutch artist Willem Besselink plays on a whole different level.

In his latest project, RE:ID, he tracked the movement of the 12,500 visitors to Rotterdam’s Museumnight, then visualized the data in real-time both online and as a large-scale public installation. The physical visualization was built out of bricks and cement on a public square, with full-blown construction equipment including a churning concrete mixer, red and white tape, and a crew of 10 construction workers working in near-real-time. Cement piles reflected the changing amount of visitors, “updated” every 15 minutes, and brick walls indicated the most popular Museumnight routes throughout the city.

Besselink has a long hisotry of physical data installations. In 2004, he exhibited 16 Days in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina — a cubic grid of 16×16 nylon wires, with one axis visualizing his pulse recorded in 30-minute intervals over the course of 16 days, intersected with temperature variations in the city over that period of time on the other axis. (This pulse visualization is somewhat reminiscent of Jonathan Harris’ 2007 project, The Whale Hunt.) The resulting 3-dimensional installation was suspended in mid-air in the gallery space.

Timelines offers an ambitious visualization juxtaposing how one specific house was used in the 1950’s, and how it is going to be used in the future, after a large-scale neighborhood renovation project.

Berlin Rotterdam is an abstract comparison of the scale of the two cities. During his 125-day stay in Berlin, Besselink recorded his position in the city in fixed intervals, then visualized these time and location data with glass beads, hanging from a map of Berlin suspended on the ceiling, down towards a map of Rotterdam laid out on the floor, moving closer to Rotterdam as the days progressed.

Explore the rest of Besselink’s data sculptures — while it may be tempting to dismiss this as cool-for-coolness’-sake postmodernist experimentation, it bespeaks a deeper cultural concern: Our restless need to make sense of all the abstract data that surrounds us, to make it more digestible and graspable by making it more tangible, more physical, more real. And art has always been a potent vehicle for exorcising our collective restlessness over the cultural concerns of the day.

via Infosthetics

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10 NOVEMBER, 2009

The Visual Miscellaneum

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Infoporn meets brain candy, creationism vs. evolution, and how to make data relatable.

It’s no secret we’re majorly obsessed with data visualization. And one of the main sources fueling this obsession over the past couple of years has been David McCandless’ wonderful Information is Beautiful blog. So we’re delighted to see David’s book, The Visual Miscellaneum, is finally out — and it’s fantastic.

Through remarkable visualizations and infographics, the book dissects our relationship with information in the digital age, offering hope and inspiration for making sense of the cold and alienating world of raw data.

From the most pleasurable guilty pleasures, to how long it takes different condiments to spoil, to the creationism-evolution spectrum, The Visual Miscellaneum scoops you up and tosses you into a fascinating world of knowledge and learning that feels like whimsy, not work.

But what makes the book so special is that it goes much deeper than pretty infoporn. Through all the eye-and-brain candy, McCandless implicitly answers the pivotal question of what makes information design good — something relevant to anyone, not just designers. Because, at its bare bones, information is just ideas. And we all want to communicate and share our ideas in compelling, engaging ways — whether they’re on a storyboard for a client, or a paper napkin at a dinner party, or a brainstorming doodle in your garage.

The Visual Miscellaneum is easily one of the most exciting design-and-beyond books to come by this year, not just an essential handbook of modern visual culture, but also a potent digestive aid for the information age.

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03 NOVEMBER, 2009

Thirty Conversations on Design

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The alphabet, need over want, and the relationship between design and time.

Strategic design getup Little & Co. has launched a simple yet brilliant new project — Thirty Conversations on Design, a journey into the minds of 30 of the world’s most inspired creatives. The project asks these architects, designers and authors two straightforward but incredibly complex questions: “What single example of design inspires you most?” and “What problem should design solve next?”

We really need to define what people need, rather than what people want.” ~ Massimo Vignelli

While a few of the answer may be a bit expected, most peel away at the richest layers of design, and many say things that we don’t necessarily want to hear, challenging the idealistic and often unrealistic holy-grail approach so trendy in how we think about Design with a capital D today.

To me, greatest piece of design is obviously the invention of the alphabet.” ~ Erik Spiekermann

The first batch of conversations includes Paula Scher, one of our big design heroes, Massimo Vignelli, who designed the iconic New York City subway map in 1972, and AIGA executive director Ric Grefe.

There’s no single example of design that I find inspiring. I find design interesting in its time in relationship to something else.” ~ Paula Scher

The next two batches will be released on November 10 and November 20. Conversations include Bonnie Siegler, who designed the SNL logo and title sequence, Patrick Coyne, owner and editor of design bible Communication Arts, and legendary designer Joe Duffy, author of Brand Apart, whose thinking on the relationship between design and marketing has revolutionized some of the world’s most iconic brands, including BMW, Coca-Cola, Sony and Starbucks.

via Creativity Online

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