As a modern society, we are literally overwhelmed by data in our daily lives. We fail to fully perceive the extent of this massive influx of information. Figures, images, and statistics flow across our ubiquitous screens and spreadsheets, often without giving us the opportunity to truly interpret them.
It is increasingly difficult to understand how these numbers are interwoven with our material lives. However, this large amount of data could be surprisingly interpretable and significant if properly assessed. It says something about our world, giving us a broader collective perspective of contemporary issues. Data, if analyzed by experts and analysts, can show how seemingly disconnected areas are tightly interrelated.
We can face this information overload of our times by managing it through innovative (and hopefully fruitful) methods. The best way to understand data is to visualize it. Representing information through graphs, charts, and diagrams is the most effective strategy to assess its impact. It is during this phase that data reveals all its aesthetic potential. The patterns created by data can be brilliantly beautiful. They are interesting because of their meaning, but they can also be eye-appealing if designed by creative minds.
MDS IT Services always tries to find a nuanced balance between functionality and aesthetics, even with something as invisible as information. We know the importance of managing and storing essential data; we also firmly believe that such information can be impactful to both the brain and the eye.
In this article, we evaluate five inspiring artists who have incorporated data into their creative works. They uphold our core thesis that it’s possible to have hidden beauty contained within data, infographics, cloud computing, and internet infrastructures.
- David McCandless is a British journalist, programmer, and designer who is mostly famous for his website Information is Beautiful. On this platform, he publishes illustrative infographics that deal with a range of disparate topics like, Facebook status updates, politics, and climate issues. Regardless of the main focus of the artist, McCandless’s graphs show one truth: datasets are not boring. If combined in a fresh, simple, and creative way, they can show the general public that data is not an abstract concept that only scientists can appreciate.
- Nathalie Miebach creates “art made of storms,” as she stated in her TED Talk. Her style focuses on the convergence between art and science, using technology to trace specific patterns in chosen datasets. In the Weather Score Project,Miebach has been particularly interested in weather data, translating them into an itinerant musical performance. The collection of data of weather changes, combined with its physical translation in music, makes us think about the creative nature of science and technology.
- Aaron Koblin is a Californian digital media artist capable of transforming even the most sterileinformation into stunning images. His Flight Patterns project collects the paths of airlines over the U.S., creating intricate compositions based on those patterns. Watching this maze-like display of data causes us to think about the complexity and interconnectedness of our societies. Did you ever imagine that air traffic could be so inspirational?
- Laurie Frick is another great example of an artist who creates data-driven art. However, her point of view is different: Frick does not investigate big data. Instead, her focus is on personal, individualized datasets. Using devices, she tracks information about her biological rhythms, wellness, and personality and then transforms it into handbuilt artwork. In this way, data about our sleep or walking sessions can become extremely significant. It says something about our nature as human beings and, in a parallell way, about our unique identities as separate people.
- Matt Parker is a multimedia artist who raises another relevant question about data and its storage. In the art documentary series The People’s Cloud, Parker investigates the infrastructure of the internet and what data is necessary to maintain and operate it. From cloud computing to telecommunication cable networks to data centers, Parker highlights the materiality of this industry and, moreover, its important impact on the global ecology.
The conclusion that we can draw from these different artistic interpretations is that dealing with data is a complex and fascinating field. Information can be transposed by artists in a creative manner. The human mind is capable of processing massive amounts of objective data, but also more intimate information about people as human beings. Both types of data tell compelling stories.
Data also occupies physical, but often unnoticed, spaces in our world. Data centers run by AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure are not invisible. They are tangibly among us, and more continue to be built as the industry expands to include new cloud computing providers. But unlike a work of art, choosing the right cloud specialist is about more than just what meets the eye.