Data is the Latest Medium for Creating Beautiful, Meaningful Art

Although much of their artwork looks random, that’s far from reality. A growing number of “data artists” are creating conceptual work using information collected by personal data trackers, mobile apps, scientific experiments and even hand written notes.

Translating that data using creative metrics and physical mediums, their works reveal patterns hidden in nature and ourselves, often revealing it through the lens of colorful sculptures or images.

Some artists, like Laurie Frick, envision a world transformed and beautified by our wealth of data. Others see it as an interpretive tool used to see things previously hidden to our senses.

Let’s look at 5 examples from artists who are on the forefront of this new art trend.

Laurie Frick

A long time proponent of personal data tracking, Laurie Frick is bringing her vision of highly personal artworks into reality using a variety of colorful mediums. Often large in scale, they both express and abstract their data.

Take back your data and, turn it into art!

Mood + Quantify by Laurie Frick. Her ongoing series experiments with wall size patterns that anticipate the condition of our daily-selves, from mood to stress-levels and bio-functions.

Mood + Quantify by Laurie Frick. Her ongoing series experiments with wall size patterns that anticipate the condition of our daily-selves, from mood to stress-levels and bio-functions.

Time Blocks by Laurie Frick, captures the efforts of Ben Lipkowitz to track his daily time. This 21 day sample shows his unusual 26 hour sleep cycle, moving diagonally from right to left.

Time Blocks by Laurie Frick, captures the efforts of Ben Lipkowitz to track his daily time in color coded wood blocks. This 21 day sample shows his unusual 26 hour sleep cycle, moving diagonally from right to left.

In her TED Talk, Frick shares the enthusiasm she has for transforming our own data into personalized art.

Nathalie Miebach

Her sculptures may look highly abstract, but the method Nathalie Miebach uses to create them is far from it. In 2006 she began creating low-tech data collection devices to extract weather data. She then weaves incredible baskets with each piece precisely dictated by what the environment revealed.

"For 18 months, I recorded land, sea and ocean temperature at Herring Cove Beach (Cape Cod). This somewhat mundane activity of sticking the thermometer into the sand, water or air, soon became a type of game in which I would try to guess which of these variables would be the warmest. All three have varying efficiencies in storing heat, which articulate themselves over time. This daily dance of temperature became for me the invisible pulse of the place from which to gauge the changes I noticed in the flora and fauna."

“For 18 months, I recorded land, sea and ocean temperature at Herring Cove Beach (Cape Cod). This somewhat mundane activity of sticking the thermometer into the sand, water or air, soon became a type of game in which I would try to guess which of these variables would be the warmest. All three have varying efficiencies in storing heat, which articulate themselves over time. This daily dance of temperature became for me the invisible pulse of the place from which to gauge the changes I noticed in the flora and fauna.”

In this TED Talk Miebach explains the fascinating process behind creating each of her sculptural works:

Danica Phelps

In her ongoing series “Income’s Outcome” Danica Phelps tracks the money generated by the sale of each of her drawings. After each drawing is sold she draws a sketch of how she spent that money, including colorful stripes to display the income generated. In this way, each previous drawing generates another.

Income’s Outcome by Danica Phelps

Danica Phelps Income’s Outcome 2

Cristian Ilies Vasile and Martin Krzywinski

Using Circos, a circular visualization software popular in Genomics, Cristian Ilies Vasile and Martin Krzywinski have created circular representations of π, φ and e. The resulting artworks are vibrant and instructive of the patterns hidden in these impressive mathematical constants.

Art of e by Martin Krzywinski. In this example the two plotted the progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e, an important mathematical constant.

Art of π by Cristian Ilies Vasile and Martin Krzywinski. In this example the two plotted the progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e, an important mathematical constant.

Distribution of the first 13,689 digits of π by Martin Krzywinski.

Distribution of the first 13,689 digits of π by Martin Krzywinski.

Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec

Having only met twice in person, this data obsessed duo got to know each other quickly through weekly postcards. Their endearing year-long project “Dear Data” saw the pair sending postcards from New York to London and back – each with a week’s worth of personal data on the front and instructions for reading that data on the back.

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. Here Stefanie tracks her weekly use of mirrors on a postcard sent to Giorgia Lupi.

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. Here Stefanie tracks her weekly use of mirrors on a postcard sent to Giorgia Lupi.

On the back is a legend for interpreting the data.

On the back is a legend for interpreting the data.

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