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Diving Headfirst into Data & Generative Art
Sharing my latest personal & client projects, art collections, blogs, and more
It’s been a long time since my previous newsletter. I had to look it up; the previous one was from July 2021! I’ve created lots of new works since then, mostly (self-initiated) data & generative art collections, instead of my usual client work. Let me show you some of those works, one of which was a collaboration with UNICEF!
If you’re near Amsterdam during the next 4 days, see further down how you can get a free ticket to the Affordable Art Fair, where several of my artworks are exhibited!
Patchwork Kingdoms | UNICEF
“Patchwork Kingdoms” is a data & generative art charity collection that I created for the Giga Connect project of UNICEF. All proceeds from the sale went to this project, which aims to connect all of the schools in the world to the Internet.
The Giga project has a dataset of 1 million schools; for ±280,000, they know if the schools are connected to the internet. I took this data about the schools, split them into 1000 subsets, and turned each school into a tiny square. All the squares together build up into two separate kingdoms, where those in the upright kingdoms are schools that are already connected to the internet, while those in the hidden / upside-down kingdoms are not. Each of the 1000 pieces is thereby showing the “digital divide” that still exists in our world.
I also wrote a (very long, as usual) design blog post that goes into the design, creation and the nitty-gritty detail of how I’ve incorporated the data from the schools into the final design.
Gravitational Waves | Science News
Thankfully I also got to work on an astronomy data visualization! First discovered in 2015, LIGO and Virgo have since detected 50 gravitational wave events. These ripples through space-time itself are caused by the violent collisions of black holes (and/or neutron stars) dating back billions of years.
To celebrate the release of the 2nd catalog of mergers, Science News asked me to create an interactive data visualization revealing each event together with a companion for their printed magazine. We wanted to make the interactive part more special than a static visual. The final visual includes sound bites for some mergers even! Hovering over a merger starts a tiny (physics-based) animation of the merger. Clicking on any merger shows a pop-up modal with a lot more detailed information, such as a map of the sky that shows the rough location of where the gravitational waves originated from. So, lots to play with and explore!
Data Art Collections
If you’ve been following me, you might have seen that I’ve been trying to move more and more toward data art for some time now. After experiencing how difficult it was to find client work in data art, I quit working for 6 months to study at the Fab Academy at the start of 2021. Expanding my skills and taking some time to think.
After finishing the Fab Academy, I noticed that several of the generative artists that I follow on Twitter had been experimenting with NFTs. I had no idea what this was, but it seemed interesting what the artists were doing, so I investigated. It didn’t take long for me to realize how fascinating the concept of NFTs was, a way to have an artist’s autograph on a digital art piece (that’s how I like to see it when having to explain in one sentence). And you could even have the code itself become a permanent part of the blockchain; how cool (and appropriate)!
Seeing how this could potentially give me a way to work on data art for a living, I decided to dive in and see how it would go.
I started creating small collections, such as Elemental Flows (hiding data about the natural elements) and Wanderings of Stars (showing how stars will move for hundreds of thousands of years into the past or future).
I also created a long-form collection, where I program an algorithm that will output a different visual result depending on the “seed” (a random number) you start with, called Wanderlust. It takes the transactional data from each Ethereum block in the blockchain and converts it into a unique image, visualizing several aspects of each transaction.
And the Patchwork Kingdoms mentioned before using data about schools and their internet connectivity.
I’ve been immensely enjoying creating these data art collections and hope to continue working on such collections for a long time.
Generative Art Collections
Besides data art, I’ve also started to explore generative art. For me, it’s very similar to data art in an abstract sense. However, instead of having data to guide the visual aspects of the work, I use random numbers. Sometimes it’s just nice not having to worry about gathering, cleaning, and adjusting a dataset ;)
One of my first bigger collections was Anhedra, where I was inspired by the process by which minerals (and rocks) are created, especially when growth occurs in a competitive environment.
And over the past year, I’ve created collections that are inspired by spirographs (which have always fascinated me) with Rotae and Amorphous Symmetry. And more recently, by the simple Archimedean spiral with the Twistings collection.
I also couldn’t stay away from astronomy and started with some of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most famous photos. It takes them to an abstract level, returning them to their most basic shapes and colors in the Dreams of Hubble collection.
And finally, simply drawing millions upon millions of tiny dots that seem to form triangles and hard edges when brought together in my Obscured collection.
If you’re interested in owning any of the pieces in these collections, you can find links to the different marketplaces on each of their portfolio pages (the textual links each go to their respective portfolio page) under the “NFT links” header.
Affordable Art Fair / Amsterdam
Between 26 – 30 October 2022, the Affordable Art Fair takes place in the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Thousands of contemporary artworks can be seen, all priced under €7,500. You can browse works by artists exhibited in local, national, and international galleries.
I’m honored to have several of my works exhibited as part of Thud Studio (booth C9), where you can find four exclusive Patchwork Kingdoms that are framed and signed (the only four I’ve signed) and a big lush Wanderlust piece that is expertly framed with an epoxy layer on top, and more.
Shop | Data Visualization Art Prints
Just a reminder that you can find data visualization prints of several of my projects in my online shop. From spirographs, sky maps, visualizing pi, and more. The giclee posters are printed on lovely thick, textured archival paper with vibrant inks that don’t fade.