Friday, April 12, 2013

True Colors

When can we trust our eyes and how do we evaluate the rich resources that the web brings to us.  Technologists and artists Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg have made a wonderful mosaic of image search results that can help us think about visualization.

"The web can seem like the perfect museum, holding all the world’s art. Type “Danae Klimt” into your favorite search engine, and you conjure up a high-resolution image of Gustav Klimt’s Danaë: tan limbs, a shower of gold, red hair.

Or did you find pink limbs? Or were they gray or even green? There’s the rub: the seemingly perfect museum holds dozens of Danaës—with dozens of different palettes. Even the shape changes as reproductions are subtly cropped.
Curious just how far reproductions stray from each other, we began an investigation. (Go directly to the results if you like.) For a set of famous artworks, we downloaded all the plausible copies we could find. Then we wrote software to reconstruct each artwork as a mosaic, a patchwork quilt where each patch comes from an individual copy."

From the web site of technologists and artists, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg. "We invent new ways for people to think and talk about data."

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