This post was written by Jan Willem Tulp, who recently won the Eyeo Data Visualization Challenge. Even more, Jan Willem recently took the courageous decision to give up his regular day job in order to start his own data visualization practice.
"So, how are we all connected?" was one of the opening questions by Jake Barton from Local Projects. He showed inspiring projects like Change by Us, which exploits the power of local people by not just crowdsourcing ideas, but also encourages the forming of local project groups to resolve problems. But the most moving and emotional project he showed was 9/11 Memorial Guide, where New Yorkers can share their personal experience with the museum so that their collective memory of 9/11 will be preserved.
The immensely creative Zach Lieberman was up next. The essence of his work revolves around the topics of Drawing, Movement and Magic. Projects like Drawn, where drawings come alive, Rhonda, an intuitive 3D drawing interface, and Nike + Paint with your Feet, where the running track data is used as source to generate a artistic impressions of your run, are excellent examples that represent his involvement with these themes. After asking the audience to close their eyes and imagine losing the thing they love most, the audience even engaged more with the Eyewriter project, in which he used low-tech materials to create a device that allows paralyzed graffiti artists to be able to create graffiti just by using their eyes. Truly amazing!
Compendium++ by Casey Reas was the next boost of inspiration. Casey has abstracted different elements of generating forms, which he calls Element 3 or Process 5. By adjusting parameters, very beautiful and natural looking forms emerged. Casey also took us back to the nostalgic old days of programming. It was amazing to see generative art created on a Commodore64 with just 1 line of code!
A packed room of people then listened to how Marius Watz pioneered as a artist with using programming as the way to express himself (see the presentation slides here!). His work is really fantastically looking, even when he admitted not having the skills to draw on paper. His slides contained some remarkable statements, like "computational creativity has the potential to be truly alien" or "when software interfaces mimic the physical world, it is only because we want them to".
The DataViz 201 workshop by Jer Thorp, Wes Grubbs and Moritz Stefaner was fantastic. Jer kicked off by actually revealing how simple the essence is of his famous transitions. He is a fantastic teacher, being able to explain complex stuf in easy to understand way, with lots of humor (but... now that we know his transition tricks, he is going to get some competition of course! :-) ) Moritz was next and explained a bit about visualization theory, as well as how the X by Y project was designed. A Processing example provided to us allowed us to experiment with this golden angle sunflower algoritm ourself. It was funny to see how Jer Thorp explained how to achieve the number in the dots effect with just 1 line of code in Processing. And it was even more fun to see Jer Thorp struggle with Moritz's German keyboard! Wes Grubbs did a good job explaining how he uses photos from nature as a source of inspiration to create color palets he uses in his work. And this again was turned into a Processing sketch that demonstrates these beautiful colors.
Like day 1, this day ended with 2 sessions in a different venue. This was kicked of by a hilarious talk by Robert Hodgin. His work was mind blowing amazing: he truly made complex particle systems seem so easy, but yet... He also uses his skills for more 'serious' projects, like mocking a pigeon by computationally drawing a virtual fez on top of the head of a pigeon through a live video stream.
Last but not least, Heather Knight also had a humorous talk about robots. She showed great examples of her past work. But most funny was the actual robot she has brought with her. This robot was programmed to tell some hilarious jokes and to dance for the audience.
And with a closing party with so many inspiring people, this day could not have been any better.
First image taken by Ultra-Lab>.