Information Design Watch

August 16, 2011, 9:31 am

Making Infinity Personal

By Henry Woodbury

How does one comprehend very large numbers? This is a question for artists and thinkers that we’ve touched on before.

Conceptual artist Roman Opalka made this challenge personal, making his life’s work the painting of integers in sequence:

Starting at the top left of a canvas measuring a little over four by six feet, and using acrylic paint, he used a fine brush (No. 0) to inscribe 20,000 to 30,000 white numerals on a black background in neat rows that ended at the bottom right corner. Each succeeding canvas, or “detail” as he called it, picked up where the previous one left off. As of July 2004, he had reached 5.5 million….

All the paintings in the series bore the same title, “Opalka 1965/1 — ?.” “All my work is a single thing, the description from one to infinity,” Mr. Opalka once wrote. “A single thing, a single life.”

Starting in 1972, Opalka began taking self-portraits, also in sequence. These have been published in the stunningly crafted book shown in this video:

This is the kind of photography an artist now would turn into a digital animation.

You can see the physical experience that would be lost.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Books and Articles, Creativity, Information Design, Photography

October 9, 2010, 7:15 pm

Mindful Looking, Cape Cod and LA

By Tim Roy

Kirk Tuck, who publishes The Visual Science Lab blog, recently published a great piece on “mindful looking.” In it, he discusses his interpretation of the Zen Buddhist principle of being aware of the moment. His view, when developing a photographic composition, is to follow “the practice of approaching each subject without the conscious intention to change its meaning by altering its perceptible structure.”

The idea here is to not consider a photographic subject with a planned post-production filter or modification in mind.  For by doing so, one subconsciously rejects images that might not fit the filtering or “look” that is desired.  Tuck argues that this is “fundamentally limiting for an artist and also establishes a feedback loop that replaces truly creative seeing with a ‘sub-routine’ that adds a comforting reference while stripping the act of photography of its essential representational power.”

Fall sunset on Cape Cod

I am on Cape Cod this weekend taking photographs and thinking about a new visualization project we are beginning next week  for a major Los Angeles museum.  After considering this fascinating point of view about the unintentional filtering and skinning we bring to image creation, it will be interesting to see how my photos and the ideas we begin to develop for this project are influenced.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Information Design, Photography

February 19, 2010, 12:11 pm

Life in One Cubic Foot

By Lisa Agustin

Sometimes the simplest visual explanations are the most powerful.  Case in point:  David Liittschwager’s series of photographs in which he shows how much life can be found in one cubic foot. Liittschwager’s team visited five diverse environments including Central Park, New York and Moorea, French Polynesia.  At each location, the team used a 12-inch metal-framed cube to carve out a mini-ecosystem, then observed the plants and animal life that moved in and out of the space, down to one millimeter.  In all, more than a thousand individual organisms were photographed.  Says Liittschwager: “It was like finding little gems.”  Seeing the inhabitants of each environment assembled together, the sheer volume of the collection is awe-inspiring.  One improvement I’d like to suggest: to give each environment some context, I’d like to see the specimens arranged by groups or the layers in which they were found.  Be sure to check out the videos that show how the team documented each eco-system.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Photography, Visual Explanation

November 6, 2009, 2:54 pm

Cellphone as Paintbrush

By Lisa Agustin

cell-tango

Cell Tango is an evolving digital installation that dynamically organizes images transmitted by cellphone based on cellphones’ area codes, carriers, time and date of transmission, and participants’ contributed categories and descriptive tags.  Created by artists George Legrady and Angus Forbes, the exhibit is not so much an artist’s vision as it is an audience vision–one that suggests that everyday images taken with your cellphone camera could, in fact, mean something more.  Legrady suggests:

Will cellphone technology transform how we create/use images produced “on the fly”? In what ways do online visual databanks such as Flickr recontextualize the images we create and share? Can such online images be used creatively as components in artistic works that explore the construction of visual narratives through the juxtaposition of sequenced images? What may be relevant implementation of voice annotation to add metadata to images?

Cell Tango will be on display at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA, through December 13.

See also:

George Legrady’s web site

Review of Cell Tango in The Boston Globe

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Photography, Technology

October 9, 2009, 2:37 pm

Nikon Announces Small World Winners

By Lisa Agustin

nikon-small-world-04_place_17005_3_hayden

Nikon has announced this year’s winners of its Small World Photomicrography Competition.  Pictured above is the winner for 4th place, a cross-section of an Anglerfish ovary, photographed by James Hayden.  Truly amazing.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Photography

September 15, 2009, 12:20 pm

Lego Little People Calendar

By Lisa Agustin

lego2_0

Little people part 2: Lego is issuing its first calendar in the UK this week, as a charity effort benefiting the National Autistic Society.   Each month features the famed –and often quite terrified–’minifigs’ participating in seasonal activities.  By the way, if you ever wondered how these minifigs come into being, check out this video of the production line.

(Thanks CR Blog)

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Design, Marketing, Photography

May 18, 2009, 12:21 pm

This is Not a Painting

By Henry Woodbury

The Persistance of Memory

Take a look at the Art of Science 2009 Gallery for some stunning images generated by researchers in a wide variety of scientific disciplines.

The image above is an unusual example in that it starts with an artistic representation. Researchers loaded a bitmap of the Mona Lisa into the memory of a test computer, then examined it after power interruptions of increasing lengths.

The title “The Persistence of Memory” is both literally descriptive of the experiment and a clever reference to Salvator Dali’s most famous painting.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Photography, Technology

March 26, 2009, 2:46 pm

Innie or Outie?

By Kim Looney

Our Creative Director noticed something peculiar about the photo of Tenoumer Crater in Mauritania taken January 24, 2008, found on boston.com (NASA, Jesse Allen, NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team). The crater didn’t look crater-like; it looked like circle-shaped valley or like a cookie-cutter impression in some dough. After some experiments he discovered that if the crater is rotated 180 degrees, it looks like a crater should. Is it the lighting? Do we presume that light by default comes from the top of a picture? When he placed a second crater on the screen that could be rotated 360 degrees the interactions between the two began to get very interesting. The rotatable crater began to influence our perception of the stable crater. So we made an interactive movie to let you try for yourself. Sometimes you’ll need to look away from the screen to “flip” the image/s after rotation. See what your own experiences are!

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Comments (1) | Filed under: Cognitive Bias, Photography

December 29, 2008, 3:20 pm

The Year in Pictures

By Henry Woodbury

Almost every newspaper web site has a mesmerizing show.

The New York Times arranges their collection by category. I prefer the chronological order — and startling juxtapositions — of The Boston Globe’s collection (part 2, part 3).

Sports, politics, war, and disaster predominate, but some of my favorite pictures are those of science and nature, such as this photo from The Boston Globe:

The Chinese Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Current Events, Photography, Sports

October 5, 2006, 9:20 am

Photographs by Piotr Kaczmarek

By Henry Woodbury

The new issue of New, the “Irregular Literary Poetry Avant Garde Art Magazine” edited by Dynamic Diagrams’ founder, Paul Kahn, features photographs by our Creative Director Piotr Kaczmarek:

I chose the leafless trees as a subject because I was interested in a clear visual representation of a complex structure; starting from the high level of defined spaces between tree canopies, then the obvious organization of branches, and patterns of twigs. I like the drawing-like line qualities of the subject. What the collages are after is to reveal the fractal nature of these organic shapes.

Leafless Trees 5.jpg

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Design, Dynamic Diagrams News, Photography