I’ve recently been working on a new project, inspired by the hundreds of plots I trawl through reading the scientific literature. For plots of real observational data in particular, I began to appreciate the way that they conveyed the real world in a minimal, abstract way, distilling all the complexity of the physical processes behind them in to just a few lines and points.
Reducing complexity is, of course, the whole point of creating plots, to convey a message about a particular property or part of a system in an easily digestable format. I’m also not the first to appreciate the beauty in plots; books have been written on the theory behind pretty, informative plots, and there’s a whole subreddit, r/DataIsBeautiful, where you can find aesthetically pleasing data visualisations from a whole variety of fields. These are predominantly designed with aesthetic considerations in mind from the start.
Measured Beauty tries something different. If you ignore the axis and labels, stripping a plot of its context, what’s left has an element of beauty by itself. Every plot included is of real world data, and was originally designed to convey a message; when the message is obscured it does not stop representing the real world, and ambiguity lends itself to artistic interpretation. Each piece is a reflection of our world through the rational human lens, the beauty of our environment revealed through the measurements we make of it.
Measured Beauty is an art project with a scientific purpose: to engage the public in bleeding-edge scientific research. If you’d like to get involved, great! Please follow the guidelines on submissions given here, then get in touch.
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