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Manuel Lima (M)
London, UK
Immortal since Dec 12, 2007
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Visual Complexity
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    Decoding code
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    In 2000 Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) issued a stamp with a wooden map as a part of the Cultural Heritage series:



    “...wood was, and is, the most distinctive medium used by the Greenland Eskimos in mapmaking. Blocks are carved in relief to represent the rugged coastline of Greenland with its fjords, islands, nunataks and glaciers, the shapes of the various islands being linked together with rods. In order to reduce the size of the blocks, the outline of the coast is carried up one side and down the other.”

    Leo Bagrow, History of Cartography. Revised and enlarged by R.A. Skelton. Cambridge, Harvard U. Press, 1960, p. 27.



    Three-dimensional maps of coastlines were carved of wood as long as three hundred years ago. These Inuit charts were usually carved from driftwood and are made to be felt rather than looked at. The Inuit hold this map under their mittens and feel the contours with their fingers to discern patterns in the coastline. The land is very abstract. It is limited to “edges” that can be felt on a dark night in a kayak. Since they are made of wood they are impervious to the weather, and will float if they are dropped overboard accidentally. It will also last longer that one that is printed.
    Mon, Feb 11, 2008  Permanent link

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    Looking at an old Arabic script in The British Museum Islamic World gallery, I found myself mesmerized by the digital qualities of Square Kufic. Immediately it made me think of 2D barcodes for its striking resemblance. The interesting aspect of both forms, Square Kufic and 2D barcode, is that they look equally foreign and undecipherable to me. And without a knowledgeable interpreter, or a digital scanner, I could hardly make sense of its underlying message. The following image represents this comparison between ancient and modern code, left and right separated by more than a millennium.



    [Figure 1] - Square Kufic (by Maya Zankoul)

    Kufic is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts and consists of a modified form of the old Nabatean script. Its name is derived from the city of Kufa (in modern-day Iraq), although it was known in Mesopotamia at least 100 years before the foundation of Kufa. At the time of the emergence of Islam, this type of script was already in use in various parts of the Arabian Peninsula. It was in this script that the first copies of the Qur'an were written. Archaic Kufic script became dominant by the 8th century with the rapid spread of the Quran. However it lacked diacritical signs and was eventually replaced by Naskhi, an essentially cursive script.

    Square Kufic, from its origin from Archaic Kufic, retained the lack of a vowel system, but has been used to this day mainly in architectural settings. Square Kufic is also known as geometric, rectangular, rectilinear or geometric Kufic. When used to create geometric patterns with glazed tiles or mosaic, it can sometimes be referred to with a Farsi word hazarbaf.

    [Figure 2] - Data matrix code

    A data matrix code, also known as a 2D barcode or simply a 2D code, is a two-dimensional way of representing information. It is similar to a linear (1-dimensional) barcode, but has more data representation capability. It consists of black and white square modules (or cells), which represent bits, arranged in either a square or rectangular pattern. Depending on the situation a white module is a 0 and a black module is a 1, or vice versa. The information to be encoded can be text or raw data and its usual data size is from a few bytes up to 2 kilobytes. The length of the encoded data also depends on the symbol dimensions used.

    Data Matrix codes are becoming common on printed media such as labels and letters. The code can be read quickly by a scanner which allows the media to be tracked, for example when a parcel has been dispatched to the recipient. One of its uses is encoding URLs for applications using cellular phones with cameras. This capability is at the core of Semacode. And yet, another derivation of this capability is explored by Semapedia, a project which uses QR Code nodes to connect Wikipedia articles with their relevant place in physical space.

    However, this is certainly one of the most interesting applications of a 2D barcode:

    Mon, Jan 14, 2008  Permanent link

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    One of the most fascinating aspects of the growing compilation at VisualComplexity.com is the occasional occurrence of linking distinct projects, across subjects, to find intriguing connections that were not immediately discernible at first-hand. A great example of this is portrayed in the following images, where the correlation between virtual and physical space is quite peculiar. Both of them show a human path over time, but while figure 1 shows a GPS tracking visualization of a person’s movement in physical space, figure 2 represents a user trail in the 3D virtual environment of the Quest Atlantis Universe.



    Figure 1 - GPS Drawing by Jeremy Wodd
    Figure 2 - Avatars by Katy Borner, William Hazlewood, Sy-Miaw Lin
    Fri, Jan 11, 2008  Permanent link

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    This graph represents a genealogical distribution of Knowledge based on the French Encyclopedie from 1780. Encyclopedie, ou dictionnaire raisonne des sciences, des arts et des metiers (that is, "Encyclopedia, or a systematic dictionary of the sciences, arts, and crafts") was an early encyclopedia, published in France beginning in 1751, with the goal of gather the whole of human knowledge to date. This massive effort took over 30 years and included a list of notable contributors from the French enlightenment, such as Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau. The work comprised 35 volumes, with 71,818 articles, and 3,129 illustrations. The first 28 volumes were published between 1751 and 1772 and were edited by Diderot.

    Note: Although this was a major endeavor at the time, it's still worth mentioning, as means of comparison, that the French version of Wikipedia was indexing around 606.000 articles in January 2008.

    Read more at VisualComplexity.com
    Tue, Jan 8, 2008  Permanent link

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    Eyescapes is a series by Rankin, an incredible photographer that has represented a vast array of subjects. In Eyescapes Rankin photographed people's eyes up close and then created a series of round photographic prints that show the iris exposed and enlarged. The final output is absolutely mesmerizing.

    Know more: VisualComplexity.com
    Mon, Jan 7, 2008  Permanent link

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    Chondrophore or Porpita porpita is a gelatinous Cnidarians superficially resembling jellyfish. Measuring just one inch in diameter, the Porpita, shown here, isn't even a single organism, but a colony made up of an orderly cooperative polyps or chondrophores. The central gas-filled disc (which is of golden brown colour and hardened by chitin-like material) is essential to keeping the colony afloat.

    Read more in VisualComplexity.com
    Mon, Jan 7, 2008  Permanent link

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