Sunday, 17 June 2012

Arthur Buxton's visual timescapes

Arthur Buxton alerted me to his visual chronologies produced as prints.

His work employs data visualisation methods using colour extraction tools to explore trends in painting and print media. Using open source software he extracts colours from images gathered online to create charts and timelines that typically display the five most common colours in each image as a percentage.

TITLE: British Vogue Covers 1981 - 2011; YEAR: 2011; EDITION SIZE: 10; IMAGE DIMENSIONS: W 71 cm x H 37 cm;  SUBSTRATE DIMENSIONS: W 81 cm x H 48 cm;  MEDIUM: Pigmented Inkjet Print
Within this piece and its companions the small bar charts show the five most prominent colours, proportionally, in an individual Vogue cover. Each column is a year starting with September (when the fashion year starts) at the top and working down to October at the bottom. The columns run from 1981 on the right working across to 2011 on the left.

I was intrigued by Arthur's decision to map time from right to left (I have just finished an article for Design Issues about orientation and direction in mapping time). He answered,
‘It's just how the piece took shape and I was happy with the result. I'm not that attached to the right - left orientation though. Flipping it horizontally would be easy and wouldn't effect the information itself. I studied illustration BA and we were taught that in a narrative context left - right is 'adventure' and right-left is 'going home'.’  
I had not heard those metaphors for time direction before. Has anyone else? Do you have other distinctive ways of differentiating left-right and right-left flows for time?

See more Vogue-derived prints (showing how different the palette of the different national editions is) and related work by Arthur here.

Arthur is Technical Instructor / Artist in Residence at the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England.

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