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Info-Eye – Taxonomy of visualization methods for humanities

15. Januar 2010
Lev Manovich
Image by R▲▲S via Flickr

Listening to Lev Manovich’s talk on visualization methods for humanities right now, trying to scribble down some notes to use it in my own research. It’s a talk called „Visualization Methods for Film and Media Studies“, and he’s giving it as part of the final conference of the Digital Formalism research project. He has also contributed analyses of Vertov’s „The Eleventh Year“ (1926) to the conference, which are included in the DVD issued by the Austrian Filmmuseum.

This is not a well-written article, but if you are interested in visualizations, you will probably find it interesting to dig through and follow up the links. The conference log can be found here: digitalformalism.posterous.com.

  • gather – take a number of pictures which have something in common and find a way to sort them and see if you can identify a pattern.

For instance: Visualizations of all 4553 covers of Time magazine, 1923-2009. Note that there is not only a shift from black and white to colour, but also a preference for certain hues in certain years.

  • highlight – continuity between a „full“ media object and visualization/diagram

For instance: Take a digital copy of Anna Karenina (the novel by Tolstoy), arrange it in columns and minimize it to squeeze onto one (giant) page; automatically underline particular words and see what it looks like. See also this Flickr-Set: Hamlet.

  • sample – take samples in regular intervals (e.g. screenshots from video games), and generate an all-in-one view

For instance: Visualizations of two very popular Japanese video games Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II – 100 hours of game play. Frames taken every 6 seconds from the sequence of gameplay sessions which constitute a full traversal of the game from beginning to end. This image represents 62.5 hours of gameplay (22,4999 frames).

  • calculate – manipulate visual material algorithmically, e.g. extract a thin, vertical slice from each frame, or image, and arrange them horizontally in a time line.

For instance: The following slice through a segment of a video game (37.5 minutes of gameplay) at 1 fps. Or, as Manovich did with Vertov, extract one frame – the first frame – from each shot.

  • describe + visualize meta data

For instance: Visualization combining two types of shot categories. A single bar = one shot; bar color = shot type. In the upper graph, bar length represents shot duration

  • analyse + visualize results

(cultural analytics ted key – need to find the visualization for this one)

  • Analyze + visualize using images („image graphics“)

For instance: 4553 covers of Time magazine, 1923-2008. The x axis is time, the y axis is a composite dimension of brightness, hue, and saturation measures that were automatically extracted from the images. The graph shows the complicated transition from black and white to color printing and indicates some basic design trends in various eras of the publication. Or: Visualization of Mondrian imags on an X-Y/Time-Hue scale. Or take a look at this visualization of the average amount of movement in each shot (60000 by 724 pixels!).

Photo by R▲▲S

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