The projects done at Software Studies Initiative use computational and data visualization methods to study big visual cultural data. We combine research questions and theories from humanities and media studies with the concepts and techniques from computer science and computational social science. The following is a selection of our projects (2008-present) organized by type of data:

Social Media

On Broadway

The Exceptional and the Everyday



Taipei Phototime

YouTube Remix

Obama video addresses


Art and Design
Mondrian and Rothko
Modern art
van Gogh Google Logos

Film, Video, TV, Motion Graphics

Political video ads

Cinema Histories

Motion Studies

Dziga Vertov

Video Games and Virtual Worlds

Videogame Play

Sculpting Time

Catch and Release

Kingdom Hearts

Magazines, Newspapers, Books

Science and Popular Science

Anna Karenina

Time magazine


One million manga


LAB PROJECTS, 2009-2012:

Art and Design:
MondrianRothko.viz | Comparing evolution of Mondrian and Rothko | Lev Manovich
ModernArt.viz | From realism to abstraction, 1848-1917 | Lev Manovich
vanGogh.viz | exploring Vincent van Gogh paintings with ImagePlot | Lev Manovich
Google.viz | Design variations in Google logos, 1998-2009 | Jeremy Douglass

Film, Video, TV, Motion Graphics:
PoliticalVideoAds.viz | 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign ads | Tara Zepel
CinemaHistories.viz | 1100+ feature films, 1904-2008 | William Huber and Lev Manovich
MotionStudies.viz | The language of moving images | Lev Manovich, Serge Magdalin, Tara Zepel, Kedar Reddy
Vertov.viz | Dziga Vertov's films | Lev Manovich

Video Games and Virtual Worlds:
MappingVideoGamePlay.viz | Graphing temporal patterns in game play | Jeremy Douglass
SculptingTime.viz | Mapping temporal structures in games video with 3D volumes | Jeremy Douglass
CatchRelease.viz | The dynamics of uncanny experience in Fatal Frame 2 | William Huber
Kingdom Hearts.viz | Visualizing 100 hours of Kingdom Hearts gameplay | William Huber

Social Media:
Remix.viz | Analyzing YouTube video remixes | Eduardo Navas
ObamaVideo.viz | President Obama's online weekly addresses | Elizabeth Losh, Jeremy Douglass, Tara Zepel
SecondLife.viz | The informal architecture in virtual worlds | Jean-Francois Lucas
Flickr.viz | Comparing 340,000 images from "Art Now" and "Graphic Design" Flickr groups | Todd Margolis and Lev Manovich

Magazines, Newspapers, Books:
Science.viz | Science and Popular Science magazines, 1872-1922 | William Huber
AnnaKarenina.viz | Tolstoy's Anna Karenina | Lev Manovich
TimeLine.viz | MappingTime.viz | 4535 Time magazine covers, 1923-2009 | Jeremy Douglass and Lev Manovich
Manga.viz | One million manga pages | Jeremy Douglass, Lev Manovich, William Huber
Freakangels.viz | Temporal patterns in a web comic | Jeremy Douglass
Veja.vis | Visualizing 2.200 covers of Veja Magazine (Brazil) | Marcio Santos and Cicero Silva


N^3 Report | mapping 28 years of TV news
Art Objects as Data Points | 200,000 images in UCSD art library
MySpace.viz | tracking visual conversations in social networks


macro.viz | visualizing art, industry, territory and global economy in Brazil
ArtDiaspora.viz | Korean modern art diaspora in a global world
BettyBoop.viz | Betty Boop cartoons
MotionGraphics.viz | motion graphics and graphics design
What color is Slumdog Millionaire? | how to characterize dominants colors in feature films
GamePlotBranching | tracing variations in gameplay experiences of "Knights of the Old Republic"


About Cultural Analytics | what is it?
ImagePlot | desktop software for visualizing image sets
Style Space | How to compare image sets and follow their evolution
Cultural Analytics on 287 megapixel HIPerSpace visualization supercomputer | how we do it
Cultural Analytics history | development of cultural analytics ideas, 2005-2010
Cultural Patterns Recognition, or Seeing Through Images | using digital image analysis for humanities research
Surface is the New Depth | multiple coordinated views for cultural visualization
NURBS theory | conceptualizing cultural processes: from timelines and boxes to curves, surfaces, fields
Re:Game Libratory | a research space / library for platform studies of video game consoles
PlayDVR | networked hardware for capturing gameplay on game platforms (from Atari 2600 to Playstation 3)
PlayPower | 8-bit learning games for radically affordable computers