ETech 09: Art with Lasers, Sensors and the Net

Aaron Koblin, “Making Art with Lasers, Sensors, and the Net” on Wednesday morning at ETech 09. A lot of this was just showing us cool stuff, so there’s not many notes to take, but still…

Shows visualisations of flight patterns.

Work with NYTE showing flow of data round the world. Population types in Manhattan.

Quantity of SMS messages sent around Amsterdam.

Having people on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk draw thousands of sheep or parts of a $100 bill.

Radiohead video using a rotating laser device. It spins and records where the lasers hit as a 3D space that can be manipulated live. Google Code page — all the video data is released to play with.

Things he’s learned:

  • Looking at something ordinary in a new way can make it interesting.
  • Combining multiple visualisation techniques.
  • Think about the data, not “the real world.” Don’t get hung up on what you think it “should” look like.
  • You don’t have to use all the data.
  • Let your data free. More than 100,000 downloads of the Radiohead data.
  • Work with Radiohead.

His new project is Bicycle built for Two Thousand, again using Mechanical Turk. Had people record themselves imitating a single sound from the song, out of context. These were then put together to create an aggregated version of the song.

[He seems surprised that the aggregate song sounds intelligible, and that the $100 bill looks like a $100 bill. But I’d have been surprised if they weren’t. Isn’t this what you’d expect from averaging out many things? But still, this was all great stuff.]

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