Visualizations: Art

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This page is maintained by Dominique Thiebaut and contains various interesting visualization examples or related material found in the media and on the Web, in various forms. The authors of the visualization, or its source is indicated in the Author/Source field of each entry. I try to locate the actual authors as best as I can. I also try to find out what particular software tools were used to generate the visualization. This is reported in the implementation field.

The different visualization systems shown below are organized by application domains, and by type (borrowed and adapted from Viz4All).

The application domains include:

Visu Art.png


The Book of Trees


Category: Art/Knowledge Management Systems/Collections/Surveys
Author/Source:, by Manual Lima
Implementation: NA
Date: Aug. 2014

From Trees are one of the most ubiquitous religious symbols across the world. From ancient Sumer to Christianity, from the Maya civilization to Buddhism, there’s hardly a human society over the ages that hasn’t associated trees with some sort of celestial and religious power.

Due to its expressive quality and natural branching scheme, trees have also become important communication tools, illustrating a variety of topics such as family ties, moral values, systems of law, domains of science, biological species, hard disk drives, database schemas, and online discussions.

The Book of Trees covers over 800 years of human culture through the lens of the tree figure, from its entrenched roots in religious medieval exegesis to its contemporary, secular digital themes. With roughly 200 images the book offers a visual evolutionary history of this universal metaphor, showing us the incremental adoption of a stylized, abstract construct, as well as a recent emergence of new visual models, many employing advanced computer-generated algorithms. Ultimately, this book makes visualization a prism through which to observe the evolution of civilization.



Category: Art/Social Media
Implementation: NA
Date: March 2011

From We think it is, but we don't know anything about design. This is Convergence Senior Chris Spurlock's resume, and it's the best resume for a student journalist we've ever seen. But like we said, we're not design-minded people, so we want to get the input of people who do know a thing or two about design. That's where you come in!

Wifi Light Painting

Category: Art/Technology
Implementation: Photography
Date: 2011

From This project explores the invisible terrain of WiFi networks in urban spaces by light painting signal strength in long-exposure photographs.

A four-metre long measuring rod with 80 points of light reveals cross-sections through WiFi networks using a photographic technique called light-painting.

Seed Drawings


Category: Art
Date: 2011

From The project called Seed Drawings is an experiment on visual emergent algorithms (think Cellular Automata, L-systems, swarming, ant colony optimization, and the like), but then applied to the online labor marketplace Amazon Mechanical Turk. Each Seed Drawing is an aggregate of many smaller drawings, all produced as copies of one another.
Over a 3 month period, thousands of individuals were solicited to copy small simple line drawings. As each copy was completed, it in turn was replicated by other Mechanical Turk workers.

Lisbon traffic as living organism

Category: GIS/Greographic/Art
Implementation: NA
Date: Feb 2011

From : In this work the traffic of Lisbon is portrayed exploring metaphors of living organisms with circulatory problems. Rather than being an aesthetic essay or a set of decorative artifacts, my approach focuses on synthesizing and conveying meaning through data portrayal. This portrayal is embodied in the visualization: The Blood Vessels in the traffic of Lisbon. I use an adaptive physics system to build and manipulate the road network – the thickness, the color and the length of the vessels are excited by the number of vehicles and average velocity in each road. With this system I try to bypass the strictness of contemporary visualizations that depict data accurately through direct mappings.

The Johnny Cash Project


Category: Art
Implementation: NA
Date: Jan 2011

From The Johnny Cash Project is a global collective art project, and we would love for you to participate. Through this website, we invite you to share your vision of Johnny Cash, as he lives on in your mind’s eye. Working with a single image as a template, and using a custom drawing tool, you’ll create a unique and personal portrait of Johnny. Your work will then be combined with art from participants around the world, and integrated into a collective whole: a music video for "Ain’t No Grave", rising from a sea of one-of-a-kind portraits.

Strung together and played in sequence over the song, the portraits will create a moving, ever evolving homage to this beloved musical icon. What’s more, as new people discover and contribute to the project, this living portrait will continue to transform and grow, so it’s virtually never the same video twice.

Typographical Portraits


Category: Art/Design
Implementation: NA
Date: Jan 2011

New High Quality Fonts


Category: Art
Author/Source: Smashing Magazine
Implementation: NA
Date: Jan 2011

From Smashing Magazine: In this selection, we’re pleased to present Pompadour Numeral Set, Lato, Crimson Text, Espinosa Nova, Musa Ornata, Spatha Sans, ColorLines, Roke1984, Neuton, Avro, Baurete and other fonts. Please note that some are for personal use only and are clearly marked as such. Please read the license agreements carefully before using the fonts; they may change from time to time.

The eCloud Project

Category: Art/Science/Installation
Author/Source: San Jose Int'l Airport
Implementation: Installation
Date: 2010

From The eCloud is a dynamic sculpture inspired by the volume and behavior of an idealized cloud. Made from unique polycarbonate tiles that can fade between transparent and opaque states, its patterns are transformed periodically by real-time weather from around the world.

How to Have an Idea


Category: Art
Author/Source: Frank Chimero
Implementation: Napkin (?)
Date: 2010

A presentation, hand-drawn, in a "back of the napkin" style. It's packed, but clear, and effective.

Interesting quote from Chimero: Creative people romanticize mistakes and process. But there is no process if you don't start. No one crumples a blank sheet of paper.

Alex Trochut's Posters


Category: Art/Fonts/Graffiti
Author/Source: Alext Trochut's Web Site, Barcelona, Spain
Date: 2010

3D Painting with the iPad

Category: Animation/Art/Algorithm
Author/Source: BERG, London
Implementation: iPad + stop animation
Date: Sept. 2010

From We’re working with Beeker Northam at Dentsu, using their strategy to explore how the media landscape is changing. From Beeker’s correspondence with us during development: “…what might a magical version of the future of media look like?” We [Dentsu] are interested in the future, but not so much in science fiction – more in possible or invisible magic.
We have chosen to interpret that brief by exploring how surfaces and screens look and work in the world. We’re finding playful uses for the increasingly ubiquitous ‘glowing rectangles’ that inhabit the world.

Wheel Of Music


Category: Art/Music Author/Source:
Implementation: NA
Date: 2006

From An early intuition about how to control total dynamics led me to activate all graphic elements through a motion function that advances each element differentially. For example, if one element were set to move at a given rate, the next element might be moved at two times that rate. Then the third would move at three times that rate and so on. Each element would move at a different rate and in a different direction within the field of action. So long as all elements obey a rule of direction and rate, and none drifts aimlessly or randomly, then pattern configurations form and reform. This is harmonic resonance, and it echoes musical harmony, stated in explicit terms. I tried this procedure in several films, and was gratified by the consistency of the confirmation it demonstrated. – John Whitney, “Digital Harmony”, pp. 38

Wanderword: German words adoption around the world


Category: Geographical/Art
Author/Source: Golden Section Graphics
Implementation: NA
Date: 2008

From For the Goethe Institut, we designed a version in DIN A0 size (33.1 in × 46.8 in) of our graphic »German spoken«. But, instead of using the 700 words we processed in the earlier version for Vanity Fair (issue 11/2007), we used about 2,000 of 2,500 terms in this new king-sized »emigrated words« poster. The Institute collected them in an initiative from all over the world.

Graffiti + Visualization


Category: Art/Graffiti
Author/Source:, and Ulvenhout, Netherlands.
Implementation: NA
Date: 2010

As presented in The printed wall has been hand painted at the new fire department building in Ulvenhout, Breda (The Netherlands). The visualization shows this department’s actions of the last 10 years. The fire department is located right beside a highway. Many of the actions of the department take place right on that highway, like rescue missions for car accidents. Actions are represented by circles and located on the exact geographical position where the accident or fire happened. If you know the area you can clearly see the the form of the highway.

Sculpting Music by Nathalie Miebach

Miebach weave.jpg
Miebach music.jpg

Category: Art
Author/Source: Nathalie Miebach's page
Implementation: Basket weaving
Date: 2010

From Recently, I have begun translating weather data collected in cities into musical scores, which are then translated into sculptures as well as being a source for collaboration with musicians. These pieces are not only devices that map meteorological conditions of a specific time and place, but are also functional musical scores to be played by musicians. While musicians have freedom to interpret, they are asked not to change the essential relationship of the notes to ensure that what is still heard is indeed the meteorological relationship of weather data.

Inception Time Line


Category: Art
Author/Source: Appears in Flowing Data, which takes it from
Implementation: NA
Date: 2010

This is a time-line generated by for the movie Inception. Start at the bottom left, and follow the time-line of the movie in a counter-clockwise direction. The van falling off in the river is at the very end...

Another time line for the same movie can also be found on

Back of the Napkin Diagrams


Category: Art
Author/Source: reported by FlowingData, and
Date: 2010

From FlowingData: Carl Richards, a financial planner and a regular on The New York Times' Bucks blog, uses graphs and diagrams to explain personal finance. And as you know, sketches are always twice as charming when they are on the back of a napkin. Together, the collection provides sound financial advice, so that you don't end up poor and bankrupt, chasing the next Google or investing in entertainment.

Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.


Category: Art (for lack of better categorization)
Author/Source: Matt Might's Web site
Implementation: NA
Date:: 2010

From Every fall, I explain to a fresh batch of Ph.D. students what a Ph.D. is. It's hard to describe it in words. So, I use pictures. Read below for the illustrated guide to a Ph.D.
-- Matt Might

Icons of the Web


Category: Art
Implementation: NMap Security Scanner
Date: 2010

From We retrieved each site's icon by first parsing the HTML for a link tag and then falling back to /favicon.ico if that failed. 328,427 unique icons were collected, of which 288,945 were proper images. The remaining 39,482 were error strings and other non-image files. Our original goal was just to improve our http-favicon.nse script, but we had enough fun browsing so many icons that we used them to create the visualization below.

The area of each icon is proportional to the sum of the reach of all sites using that icon. When both a bare domain name and its "www." counterpart used the same icon, only one of them was counted. The smallest icons--those corresponding to sites with approximately 0.0001% reach--are scaled to 16x16 pixels. The largest icon (Google) is 11,936 x 11,936 pixels, and the whole diagram is 37,440 x 37,440 (1.4 gigapixels). Since your web browser would choke on that, we have created the interactive viewer below (click and drag to pan, double-click to zoom, or type in a site name to go right to it).

Vivaldi's Four Seasons


Category: Art, Music
Author/Source: MotStudio
Implementation: NA
Date: 2010

From lesquatrestacions is a graphic information system for visualizing the lead violin of Vivaldi’s masterpiece. The work consists of four posters, a set of stamps and the documentation of the system.

Sync Lost


Category: Art, Music
Author/Source: 3bits Lab
Implementation: NA
Date: 2009

From "SyncLost is a multi-user installation for immersion in the history of electronic music. From a complex timeline, rhythms and sub-rhythms merge to create new sounds.
The project’s objective is to create an interface where users can view all the connections between the main styles of electronic music through visual and audible feedback. The choice is individual and leads to a collective consequence in the spatial visualization of information."

Justsamcom humanbody.png

Category: Art
Author/Source: Netherlands
Implementation: NA
Date: 2005-2010

An illustration of the human body using the subway map structure as a support.

Clavilux 2000

Category: Art
Author/Source: Germany
Date: Feb. 2009

From The visual concept of Clavilux 2000 is quite simple. For every note played on the keyboard a new visual element appears in form of a stripe, which follows in its dimensions, position and colour the way the particular key was stroke: The length and vertical position show the velocity, the stripe’s width reflects the length of each note.
By mapping the color wheel on the circle of fifths, the colours finally give the viewer and listener an impression of the harmonic relations. Notes belonging to one specific tonality always get colors from one specific area of the color wheel. Therefore each key gets it’s own color scheme and “wrong” notes stand out in contrasting colors. The more different tonalities a piece has, the more colorful the visualization will be."

8-Bit New Yor City


Category: Art
Author/Source: Brett Camper, MIT grad

a mixture of OpenStreeMap, CC-BY-SA, SQL/PostGIS, TileCache, and OpenLayers.

Date: 2010

From "8-Bit NYC is an attempt to make the city feel foreign yet familiar, smashing together two culturally common models of space: the lo-fi overhead world maps of 1980s role-playing and adventure games, and the geographically accurate data that drives today's web maps and GPS navigation. I hope to evoke the same urge for exploration, abstract sense of scale, and perhaps most importantly unbounded excitement that many of us remember experiencing on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Commodore 64, or any other number of 8-bit microcomputers. [...]"

Mouse Trails


Category: Art
Author/Source: NA
Implementation: NA
Date: 2010-current

from the 2/16/2010 NYT articles by Nick Bilton Viewing the Mouse Tracks You Leave Behind: "If you’ve ever wondered about the flow of your mouse around your computer screen, a free downloadable application, called “mouse pointer track,” can help you follow these esoteric movements and turn them into a fascinating blur between art and information. The simple application was developed by Anatoly Zenkov, a Russian graphic designer and programmer, and has been downloaded tens of thousands of times since he first released it in late January this year."

Presentations with Prezi

Category: Art
Author/Source: Budapest
Implementation: NA (probably Java or Flash)
Date: 2009-present

from Prezi is zooming sketches on a digital napkin. It's visualization and storytelling without slides.
Your ideas live on stage and on the web. Have you ever wondered about presenting your thoughts as free as they come? Ever got tired of creating a slideshow? It's been said, that the best innovations come from people who are unhappy with the tools they use. We realized that our ideas won't fit into slides anymore. Putting together creative thinking and technology expertise, we have created Prezi, a living presentation tool.


Category: Art
Author/Source: NA
Implementation: misc
Date: 2008

A sample on the right of many visualizations from NeoFormix maintained by Jeff Clark. See also other entry on NeoFormix

Chris Jordan's Art (2)

See Chris Jordan's Art in the Algorithms section

CCByNc.png You can remix, tweak, and build upon this page non-commercially. Your work must acknowledge Dominique Thiebaut as its author and be non-commercial.