When artists and painters across Europe started romanticising about culture of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, many attributed the event to a new movement for art. When Americans loosened their brushes over the canvas yet added deep colours onto their painting, a variation to the art form resulted, and became known as American Impressionism – way different from the original French experiment. The western world took a note of ever graceful sari-clad Indian woman when one of the finest Indian painters Raja Ravi Varma brought contemporary social subtleties onto canvas in the mythological mould.
A short note or mention like this will not do justice to the vast history of artistic accomplishments by people across the globe. But a statistician like William Playfair never thought of being an inspiration to a modern creative population powered by mammoth communication network and numerous information data storage and crunching machines. Ever-increasing data today is like surplus food for our people. It exposes our inability to assimilate overflowing data like widely noticed cases of obesity as a reflection of high-availability of food to us. And it creates a huge pile of unused and garbage data.
Yet, like Playfair, many have gone ahead in extracting these apparently useless data, and are trying to make useful patterns and visualizations. Be it the processing of textual data or image data, people put their algorithms to draw engrossing depictions. While this number crunching is not an area of liberal art, the courageous imagination to fashion ocular impressions and intriguing motifs out of not-so-useful data can certainly be called as an art.
It’s an art form with a quantitative tilt. Unlike popular belief, art has imbibed science and mathematics as they came. While realism in mathematical philosophy demands an existence of mathematical entities independent of our mind, anti-realism in art encroaches the mind with different archetypical sketches for such mathematical entities. While anti-realism in science provokes a claim over the non-existence of certain matters and rather suggests those to be essential only to prove human-made theories, art extends our scientific imagination by pushing creative power into geometrical drawings and dynamics for illustration and infusion of curiosity. In short, numbers and quantities can make up new art, and so also, when you take the help of machines to draw.
So, this quantifiable art form, Qism (‘Q’ for Quantitative), goes far from traditional art forms to establish a strong creative communication channel between the artists and general population. Start with infographics!
The graph above tells the distances (all units are in kilometres) at which you can see lights next (market places or lighted villages) during night along your way as you go from Bhubaneswar to my village, Bhoda, located at a distance of 86 kilometres. The picture depicts concentration of residential or business centres. The inset map tells how long one moves away from nearest local population at any given point while travelling on road. Mita (wife) and Ayash (son) had assisted me in this fun job of collecting geo-positional data.