Happy 2013 from softwarestudies.com


ImagePlot video tutorials: learn how to visualize image collections

A while ago I recorded 4 video tutorials showing how to use our ImagePlot visualization tool.

ImagePlot allows you to explore image and video collections of any size by creating visualizations which show images in a collection - or keyframes in a video - sorted in different ways. Both metadata and visual properties of images - which can be measured with ImageMeasure tool included with ImagePlot - can be used for sorting.

In case you missed them, here are the tutorials:

1. Measure basic visual properties of an image collection with imageMeasure (this macro is distributed with ImagePlot). Image set used for the demo: 778 images of van Gogh paintings (included in ImagePlot download.) Note: You can also another tool - QTImageProcessing - to measure additional image properties.

2. Visualize image collection as points using ImagePlot. This visualization uses metadata (year and month for each painting) and one of the measurements created in step 1. (The measurement used is median brightness.)

3. Visualize image collection as images using ImagePlot:

4. Some of the advanced options available in ImagePlot. The demo uses another image collectin distributed with ImagePlot: 128 images of Piet Mondrian's paintings (1905-1919).

If you want us to explain any other features of ImagePlot, or want to know how to create particular visualizations, just let us know.

AR student project allows museum visitors to look underneath van Gogh paintings

Van Gogh's studio practice: Canvases re-used



With the support of AR Lab, student Koen Mostert made a tool that enables you to see what is underneath the painting by touching an iPad screen. This was done for five paintings, with a separate iPad for each painting.

The project was presented in Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. It examined van Gogh's various working methods. In addition to allowing visitors see the earlier paintings which van Gogh paintted over, the presentation also examined deterioration of paintings over the years.

The investigation into Van Gogh’s re-use of canvases is part of a large project entitled Van Gogh’s studio practice. A multidisciplinary team (comprising staff from the Van Gogh Museum, the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency and Shell) is examining every imaginable facet of Van Gogh’s artistic process and comparing it with that of his contemporaries. The objective is to gain greater insight into Van Gogh’s working method and to place it in the context of his time.

You can follow the developments of this investigation: www.vangoghsatelierpraktijk.nl

Google 60 and Google BBS Terminal - interacting with computers in 60s and 80s

Two very nice projects from masswerk.at recreate human-computer interaction in 1960s and 1980s:


The link to the working application - Google web and image search as it could have looked in 1960:


“Google60” is an art project to explore distances and heroism in user interfaces.
All scripts and images © 2012 N. Landsteiner, mass:werk – media environments, www.masswerk.at.

Here is the screenshot from the second interactive application:

Google BBC terminal

Follow this link to try the application - Google web and image search as it could have looked in the 1980s:

Google BBS Terminal – What Google would have looked like in the 80s

(c) 2012 mass:werk – media environments, N. Landsteiner,
A working service after a video by Squirrel-Monkey.com: “If Google were invented in the 80s”.

Visualization on tiled displays: new software from the University of Texas at Austin

When in 2005 I saw for the first time a 55 monitor tiled diplay at the opening of Calit2 building, it changed my life. I realized that such displays combined with the massive cultural data sets that were becoming available (for example, Artstor) can offer fundamentally new opportunites for the study of cultural processes and dynamics. Two years later, with the suupport from Calit2's visionary leaders Larry Smarr and Ramesh Rao, together with Noah Wardrip-Fruin I established Software Studies Initiative. We focused on development of "software-based research methods and next generation cyberinfrastructrure tools and resources for the study of massive sets of visual cultural data, asking theoretical questions that are important for humanities."

In 2009 we developed the interactive visualization application for explorations of image collections which was running on 287 mexapixel display at Calit2, made from 70 30-inch displays. (The software is described in Yamaoka, S., Manovich, L., Douglass, J., Kuester, F., Cultural Analytics in Large-Scale Visualization Environments, IEEE Computer, 11/2011.)

Our app allows for interactive manipulation of thousands of images of any size. However this interactivity currently has a price - the sofware only works on multi-monitor dispay systems which run CGLX (A Cross-Platform Cluster Graphics Library); the development of new apps requires experience with CGLX.

Now Texas Advanced Computing Center at University of Texas at Austin released Most Pixels Ever: Cluster Edition (MostPixelsEverCE), a library for extending Processing sketches to multi-node tiled displays:

TACC Develops Visualization Software for Humanities Researchers

Most Pixels Ever: Cluster Edition

MostPixelsEverCE - software

Created by artists Casey Reas and Ben Fry, Processing is an established platform used by numerous artists and designers - a very important factor in the further development of humanities visualization. Artists and designers pioneered innovative visualizations of cultural data almost ten years ago (for example, Manyeyes, 2003). Later, Processing artist Daniel Shiffman developed the original MostPixelsEver library, which inspired University of Texas researchers to develop their software. (Daniel teaches at ITP in NYC and he recently published a book Naure of Code funded via Kickstarter).

We are looking forward to "sketching" with the new software on scalable multi-monitor displays walls at Calit2. While our latest walls have lower resolution than U. of Texas's amazing 328 megapixel Stallion, they use new monitors with very thin besels:

Tour (04-11-2012) 23
Lev Manovich demonstrating interactive explorations of image collections (168 paintings by Mark Rothko).

new book: Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression (MIT Press, Software Studies)

Speaking Code

Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression (MIT Press, Software Studies)

Geoff Cox and Alex McLean

Hardcover: 168 pages

Publisher: The MIT Press (November 9, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0262018365

Book description (Amazon):

Speaking Code begins by invoking the "Hello World" convention used by programmers when learning a new language, helping to establish the interplay of text and code that runs through the book. Interweaving the voice of critical writing from the humanities with the tradition of computing and software development, in Speaking Code Geoff Cox formulates an argument that aims to undermine the distinctions between criticism and practice and to emphasize the aesthetic and political implications of software studies. Not reducible to its functional aspects, program code mirrors the instability inherent in the relationship of speech to language; it is only interpretable in the context of its distribution and network of operations. Code is understood as both script and performance, Cox argues, and is in this sense like spoken language--always ready for action. Speaking Code examines the expressive and performative aspects of programming; alternatives to mainstream development, from performances of the live-coding scene to the organizational forms of peer production; the democratic promise of social media and their actual role in suppressing political expression; and the market's emptying out of possibilities for free expression in the public realm. Cox defends language against its invasion by economics, arguing that speech continues to underscore the human condition, however paradoxical this may seem in an era of pervasive computing.

call for papers: Visualization Evaluation

Call for papers for the special issue of Information Visualization journal (SAGE) on "Visualization Evaluation"

Guest Editors: Enrico Bertini, Petra Isenberg, Tobias Isenberg, Heidi Lam, Adam Perer.

Visualization has recently gained much relevance for its ability to cope with complex data analysis and communication. Thanks to its ability to convey complex concepts in an efficient manner it has been adopted in many contexts; from scientific laboratories to newspapers.

While the overall use of visualization is accelerating, the growth of techniques for the evaluation of these systems has been slow. How do we measure the quality of a visualization? How do we decide on competing designs? How do we know whether a visualization meets its goal? These are only some of the questions researchers and practitioners are confronted with when designing visualization systems.

To understand how, when and why visualization works, evaluation efforts should be targeted at the component level, the system level, and the work environment level. The commonly used evaluation metrics such as task time completion and number of errors, when used in isolation, appear to be insufficient to quantify the complex quality and usage of a visualization system, therefore new metrics and methods to better evaluate visualizations are needed.

This special issue calls for innovative ideas about how to evaluate visualization and reflections about its state of the art. We call for papers dealing with evaluation in the fields of scientific visualization, information visualization, and visual analytics. We explicitly discourage submissions describing exclusively the process and outcome of a given evaluation unless the methodology itself is innovative.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

* Evaluation in the visualization development lifecycle
* Utility characterization
* Evaluation metrics
* Insight characterization
* Synthetic data sets and benchmarks
* Taxonomy of tasks
* Computational evaluation
* Benchmark development and repositories
* Methods for longitudinal studies and adoption
* Evaluation of early prototypes
* Evaluation heuristics and guidelines
* Evaluation of storytelling visualization
* Evaluation of visualization as art

Paper Submission dates:

Submissions due: Feb 8, 2013
Acceptance notices: Apr 15, 2013
Final revisions due: May 13, 2013
Publication: late 2013

Inquiries should be made to the guest editors by sending an email to chairs@beliv.org. Electronic submissions of manuscripts in PDF should be made using the online submission system and the papers should be formatted according to the journal standards. For details on the submission process, please visit the Journal's instruction website at: http://ivi.sagepub.com/

The Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of Lev Manovich and softwarestudies.com

Graphic Design Museum Breda Spring 2010
Exibition of our visualization at Graphic Museum (Netherlands), 2010.

Alisha Azevedo. Leading Digital-Humanities Researcher Is Drawn From California to New York.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 3, 2012.

"A leading digital-humanities researcher known for his sweeping digital visualizations will leave his long-held professorship in January for a new position at the City University of New York's Graduate Center."

"Mr. Manovich will teach a course on big data, visualization, and the digital humanities in the spring with the goal of introducing students in the digital-humanities master's program and Ph.D. students from all backgrounds to the field and exposing them to different visualization tools."

"He will also expand the Software Studies Initiative he founded in 2007 within the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the San Diego campus by adding offices at the Graduate Center, and he will continue working with San Diego researchers who are creating next-generation digital-visualization systems at the lab. "

"Mr. Manovich plans to continue expanding the scope of his research and has an interest in examining how digital design changes over time. "We're just getting started," he says."