Martin Wattenberg

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by oneperfectdrug

Digital Artist Research Paper:
Martin Wattenberg

Martin Wattenberg’s earliest professional masterpiece is arguably the “Map of the Market,” which he developed while working at Smart Money in New York. The “map of the Market” is a visual representation of recent activity within the stock market. What initially looks like a random grouping of colored rectangles became the first of numerous similar programs to be used every day by those on Wall St. and day trader’s around the globe. Each rectangle represents a company within a specified industry. The size of the square represents the market capitalization of the company, while the brightness represents the degree of recent chance. Positive changes are denoted with green rectangles, while the negative are denoted by red. This project was a genesis for the body of work yet to come from Martin and personifies what he enjoys creating. “My work focuses on visual explorations of culturally significant data. I’m constantly seeking new ways to represent information to create connection, insight, narrative and beauty. A particular interest is using visual tools to foster collaboration and collective discovery.” To say that data visualization is a running theme in Martin’s work would be a sever understatement.
After Smart Money, Martin moved on to become the founding manager of IBM’s Visual Communication Lab. Over the years he has had to chance to collaborate with many other computer scientists and artists on various projects. His most common collaborator is Marek Walczak, a Polish artist and architect. The two collectively call themselves MW2MW. One of the more well known projects to come out of MW2MW is the Thinking Machine. The Thinking Machine a chess game where the user plays against the computer A.I. While this is nothing new, nor particularly artistic, the two have put a spin on things. The computer opponent of an electronic chess game computes literally 1000’s of scenarios before taking each turn. With the Thinking Machine, these artificial “thoughts” are sketched out on the game board right before the player’s eyes. The game-play is deliberately slowed down to give the player the slightest chance of understanding what takes place regarding the computers thought process before making each move; “A series of works that explore the invisible, elusive nature of thought.”
In 2005 Martin enlisted the help of his wife to create the Name Voyager. The Name Voyager is essentially a baby name book on steroids. Not only can you look up baby names and their popularity over time, but you can compare them in relation to similar sounding names. If you type in the first three letters of “Wilson,” you can see its popularity over the years side-by-side with the popularity of “William.” As if this weren’t enough, Martin took it a step further in 2008 with the Name Mapper. Now you can see all of the previously mentioned data for instant comparison and further narrow down the data by state. It turns out that “Steven” was most popular in the 1950’s, more specifically in the Midwestern states.
2008 also yielded some work that wasn’t as family friendly for Martin. The Flesh Map is Martins most well known work beside the Map of the Market. The Flesh Map is the culmination of original research and design done by Martin, Fernanda Viegas, and Dolores Labs. The project was divided largely into two portions, one being visual and the other being audible. In the visual piece, 707 points were plotted on a female and male body. Hundreds of participants were then asked to rate how good it would feel to be touched by a lover on these points or to touch their lover on these points, taking into consideration the participants gender and sexual orientation. Two separate visualizations represent the data by size using a nude model, or by color value using a silhouette of the model. The audible portion is equally intriguing. Over 10,000 songs from various genres of music were cataloged by lyrical reference to specific body parts. Each body, including synonyms, was given its own circle within that particular genre of music. Each genre is compared side by side to show which typically uses more body parts in the lyrics than the others. Clicking on a specific genre allows you to see the percentage of songs within that genre that include a particular body part. In hip –hop, the circle for “ass” is the largest as it occurs 23.64% of the time, where as “booty” is significantly smaller with only a 2.31% of occurrence.
Martin Wattenberg is a prime example of blending art with science, mathematics, and social studies. He is still with IBM and his currently working on a new project titled Many Eyes (,) which he describes as “an experiment in open, public data visualization and analysis.” As fascinating as his previous work has been, Many Eyes is sure to be worth a look and an attempt to wrap your brain around the ingenuity behind it.

Final project

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by oneperfectdrug

My tribute to the gestalt of bling…

The Soundtrack of The Gesltalt of Bling. Featuring B.G. and the CashMoney Millionaires.

2nd 14 second clip

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by oneperfectdrug

Industrial Euthanasia from s calvert on Vimeo.

First 14 second clip

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by oneperfectdrug

Chapter 3: Major themes in digital art

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by oneperfectdrug

The major themes in digital art are artificial life and intelligence; telepresence and telerobotics; database aesthetics, mapping, and data visualization; net activism and tactical media; gaming and narrative hyper media environments; mobile and locative media; social networks; and virtual tools.

These themes are so prevalent in digital art because of the characteristics inherent to them which cannot be explored as in-depth with analog media ad they can in digital media.

Take gaming for example. Mario brothers has been presented over and over in analog media just as pure representations, i.e. posters, t-shirts, and lunch boxes. While these may all have required digital tools they are still analog manifestations, as was discussed in chapter 2. The games themselves, played on a every console generation since the original Nintendo, is the digital manifestation that without the analog depictions would have no relevance.

Mankind has always been fascinated with the idea of creating life. Ideas and sketches of robots have been floating around for as long as any of us can remember. The age of digital technology, however, has made them a reality. Draw a picture of a robot vacuuming the floor and your neighbor can stare are it and appreciate its aesthetic quality. Create and program a robot that can vacuum the floor, and you’ve created a true example of artificial life as opposed to a mere depiction of it, even if on a scale considered trite by todays standards.

Chapter 2: Digital technologies used as a tool vs. medium.

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by oneperfectdrug

I think this is fairly straight forward, and thus, simple to answer. A tool is used to create the art, but the medium is how it is finaly presented. For example: If I take a serious of videos and piece them together using a video editing program, the medium is video while the software, the computer on which it is installed, an the camera used to capture the videos are tools.

Digital technology is also often used as a tool to create art that most would not consider digital art in itself. If a CAD program is written and ithen translated into code for a CNC machine, the the machine itself and the programing are digital technologies both used as tools. But the final product that comes out would most likely be considered a sculpture, and thus presented in an analog medium.

Response to Chapter 1

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by oneperfectdrug

How does digital art/ new media relate to or impact different aspects of our western culture?

 Digital art is, in some way, present in every facet of our lives. You don’t have to be an artist or art collector to benefit from digital art. Even those born without sight are affected, daily, by the endless applications of digital art. Some of these applications are used in a rather specific sense, while others are nearly universal.

Take, for example, CAD programs. They use numerous complex mathematical equations to create complex images that are used in creating everything from highway systems, to commercial airliners, to the monitor you’re looking at this very second. The value of quickly and efficiently creating these images is immeasurable.

On a much more specific plane we have CGI. The most common uses for CGI are of course in movies/TV and video games. Movies and video games are two extremely high-grossing industries in our country. Brad Pitt makes over $15,000,000 for his films. I don’t even want to mention how much members of professional Halo 3 team Final Boss make…to play video games…all year. Many of Mr. Pitt’s movies and all the top video games of today use CGI. Any fan of action movies knows what CGI has done for the industry. Although rather trite these days, we can all agree that Terminator 2’s T-100 was one of the most stunning effects we had ever seen. And if you’ve seen any of the latest sports video games, you may have initially thought you were watching a mere telecast of an actual game. The evolution of such technology has been exponential and shows no real signs of stopping.

The Wachowski brothers forever solidified their place in cinematic history with the use of bullet-time in their first installment of The Matrix movies. Before I go on, I realize that some would argue that Blade was the true first use of bullet-time, but everyone will remember The Matrix as the first truly influential use of the technique. When audiences and directors alike saw what the Wachowski brothers and their team had done with bullet-time, it changed special effects forever. If you’ve never checked out bullet-time, it is definitely worth looking up. The ingenuity and vision that was required to spawn such a technique is nothing short of amazing.

In the U.S. digital art is an inherent aspect of everyday life. From luxuries to necessities; digital art has evolved so far that it now has an impact on every component of our daily lives. Weather it be direct or indirectly, we all experience the ever growing domain of digital art every time we wake up.