tech art video 3d_cameras lidar kinect film music radiohead
Art Within Data: Beautiful Movement and Sound

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by Michael Keller

Data is ubiquitous in our modern world. Though it’s the thing that carries the music to our ears, the video to our eyes and even the words you’re reading right now to you, we often think of it as the cold and dense inhabitant of databases and processors.

It might be the means for consuming art, but it isn’t often the art itself. That’s why this project gave us pause. It’s called “unnamed soundsculpture” by We Are Chopchop, a Berlin-based collective of designers, filmmakers and artists.

The piece features a cloud of three-dimensional data points generated by intersecting the output of three depth-sensing Microsoft Kinect cameras, which recorded a dancer moving to a composition called “Kreukeltape” by Machinenfabriek.

The 3-D model they created seems as alive as the dancer, whose movement and volume are its foundation.

We Are Chopchop also created this teaser video for the musician Thomas Azier’s recently released album. The filmmakers used a piece of software called RGBDToolkit, which employs a Kinect as an accessory to a production-quality camera. The striking result is the real world merged with 3-D wireframes.

Any mention of using data generated from the real world to create visual art from music and motion would be remiss without including Radiohead. The group’s 2008 video for “House of Cards” is a case study in appropriating data for art.

Director James Frost used neither lights nor cameras in creating the video. Instead, his team built visualizations using 3-D plotting technologies including Geometric Informatics’ 3-D capture system and Velodyne’s light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor.

Here’s one more, a phantasmal walk through the streets of Barcelona called “Alley Posts” by media artist James George. To make it, George used a handheld 3-D scanner as he walked through the city in December 2011.

Top Image: Still from “unnamed soundscape” courtesy Flickr user Daniel.Franke.

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