The Mill and IBM Watson visualise data art from elementary media

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-09-24-14The Mill has revealed the creative process behind a massive real time data art installation built from the computation analysis of pop music, social media and news media by IBM’s Watson.

Working with agency Ogilvy and its production arm with Hogarth, H&O, the project enabled Grammy-nominated artist Alex Da Kid to use the system to help provide insight and inspiration to the process of writing his forthcoming album.

The project saw natural language and musical compositions assigned emotional values by Watson. The Mill then translated these into immersive visualisations that could be navigated by time, emotion and genre.

Intricate colour coding of the visuals was based on a five colour palette, one each for joy, anger, disgust, sadness, and fear.

“We sought to create art, but also find insight,” said The Mill. “We believe that the overall emotional tenor of the world, as determined by analysing media and social posts, has a causal relationship to what is popular in mainstream music in a similar time period.

“At it’s heart are two systems. Our abstract visualisation gives the user a gestalt visual experience, summing vast and complex data sets gleaned from the lyrics and composition of Billboard Top 100 songs, into a colour coded environment built of undulating waves.

“The second system is a text based visualisation built on analysis of twitter feeds and news media headlines. The language  was colour coded by statement to coincide with the abstract system colours.

Both systems are linked by time. The user can navigate temporal, emotional and genre based classification via a custom built hardware interface we designed to feel like a midi controller on a starship.”



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