May 20, 2010

Data Baby & beyond

A few month ago AEP noted some background on Data Baby, a generative graphics spot from IBM. More of the background is fleshed out by Ian Failes of Vfxblog in his Fxguide interview with visual effects supervisor John Fragomeni and art director Angela Zhu.

Coincidentally, Mitchell Whitelaw considers the same series of commercials at his blog This Teeming Void in This is Data? Arguing with Data Baby.

"Data does not just happen; it is created in specific and deliberate ways. It is generated by sensors, not babies; and those sensors are designed to measure specific parameters for specific reasons, at certain rates, with certain resolutions. Or more correctly: it is gathered by people, for specific reasons, with a certain view of the world in mind, a certain concept of what the problem or the subject is. The people use the sensors, to gather the data, to measure a certain chosen aspect of the world.
Collapsing the real, complex, human / social / technological processes around data into a cloud of wafting particles is a brilliant piece of visual rhetoric; it's a powerful and beautiful story, but it's full of holes. If IBM is right - and I think they probably are - about the dawning age of data everywhere, then we need more than a sort of corporate-sponsored data mythology. We need real, broad-based, practical and critical data skills and literacies, an understanding of how to make data and do things with it."

This view mirrors earlier arguments in public policy circles on energy and economic modeling and forecasting. See also AEP's How to Lie with Video Data and Smashing Magazine's Imagine A Pie Chart Stomping On An Infographic Forever.

"Film is truth 24 times a second, and every cut is a lie..."
--Jean-Luc Godard
"The camera lies all the time. It lies 24 times a second."
-- Brian De Palma

Update: here's a slight return for The Kuleshov Effect, a montage effect demonstrated by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov, which is explained near the end of the interview with Hitchcock (he explains three types of editing).

No comments: