The Art of Data Visualization by Aaron Koblin

Aaron Koblin, part software programmer and part artist, creates fascinating works by creating visual interfaces to digest various types of data.  You may have seen one of his projects circulating virally around the web. I highlighted a few of my favorites and included his TED talk video at the bottom of the post.

Aaron’s work takes real-world and community generated data and uses it to reflect on cultural trends and the changing relationship between humans and technology.

The Sheep Market

The Sheep Market is a collection of 10,000 sheep made by workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Workers were paid 0.02 ($USD) to "draw a sheep facing to the left." Animations of each sheep's creation may be viewed at


A dynamic sculpture inspired by the volume and behavior of an idealized cloud. Made from polycarbonate tiles that can fade between transparent and opaque states, its patterns are transformed periodically by real time weather data from around the world. An installation in the San José International Airport with collaborators Dan Goods of NASA's JPL, and Nik Hafermaas of Art Center College of Design.


Ten Thousand Cents is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon's Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase are all $100. The work is presented as an interactive/video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, "crowdsourcing," "virtual economies," and digital reproduction. A collaboration with Takashi Kawashima.



Participants are invited to create a drawing that is woven into a collective tribute to Johnny Cash, set to his song "Ain't No Grave." The project was inspired by the song's central lyric, "ain't no grave gonna hold my body down," and represents Cash's continued existence, even after his death, through his music and his fans. The work continues to grow and evolve as more people participate. A collaboration with director Chris Milk.

One of coolest aspects of this project is each frame has many submitted drawings, giving the video many possible variations. The video can be watched using all pointillism, abstract, realistic or sketchy drawings. The drawing process for each drawing can also be replayed to see how it was drawn.

Aaron Koblin’s website has many more projects to see, so make sure and check it out.

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