Visualizing the secret beauty of the world wide web

Dec 04, 2013

From a distance these stunning images look likes stars exploding, fireworks or simply striking patterns - but what you're actually looking at are the hidden dimensions of the world wide web

Dr Martyn Dade Robertson from Newcastle University creates the stunning artworks, known as Data Portraits. He has developed a way of mapping sites and turning drab data into a beautiful artwork. Each image is unique and captures a website at a particular point in time as the information they contain is constantly changing.

The artworks show the navigational links that a user sees, but also links to code, images, videos and the layer of external links which, together, make up the complete structure of a web site.

Martyn, who is a lecturer in architecture, is taking commissions from businesses to fund his research which looks at the links between architectural design, online spaces and the way information can be visualised.

He said: "I've been interested in the ideas behind the data portraits for some years now, looking at the way the online world is developing and how you could show that dense information in a new way in my research.

"I wanted to take the web, which is something that we see every day and really just take for granted, and show a different side to it.

"I started playing around with the data and found a way to capture the information and make it into art. What is really fascinating about this is that it really is a snapshot of a website at particular point in time and if I did the same process again just a day later, the data portrait would be different as the available would have changed.

"I've decided to use any money made from commissions of the portraits to fund further research and experimentation and, potentially, to support a student scholarship. Using them to help students learn about the same idea seemed a very fitting idea."

Martyn has created from Google, NASA and Apple websites and has been commissioned by clients including UK Net Park (who have a long term exhibition of his work) and Savilles the estate agents.

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