tufte-y world

Metal band Berlin Explotor have released a new studio album, entitled, “Shores of Hell” and to sell the album, they’ve subjected several Slayer albums to quantitative analysis (actually, Hirschkraft Metal Consulting has done the work, although their website is the equivalent of the Bodega in the neighborhood that is actually a front for a drug racket). Specifically, the appearance of particular terms within the lyrics of songs on the album (and credits for those songs and words) are of utmost importance. Those words are: blood, death, evil, hell, kill, satan and war. Although the page doesn’t announce the explicit purpose of these data visualizations, the text does explain that with this album, “all metal enthusiasts now get their money’s worth.” I don’t think I know any metal fans that feel they’ve been cheated when a song’s lyrics are too light on the mentions of “war” or “evil,” but the inclusion of these words certainly signals the politics and metal allegiances of the band. What is particularly strange is that they present an analysis of lyrics on albums they didn’t write. What kind of crazy nostalgia drives a successful band to analyze 11 albums from some other band? This leads me to the natural conclusion: metal is the most nostalgic musical style in the world. Discuss.

Also in data visualization and culture:

Twitterstreet: Photographic portraits of people using twitter, where and when they’re doing it (although these are hardly uncomposed shots…). The problem here is that the information architecture is too thin to really get a sense of the people. You see their twitter handle, the environment in which they live (work, walk, commute, shop, etc.), and their physical form, but really nothing else. Even a paragraph about their featured tweet, or the reason they chose their handle, or their life or lifestyle would add a great deal of nuance and interest.


Here is a project by folks at Parsons, transforming street conditions in New York City, over the course of a day, into a sonic tapestry. Weather, traffic, the motion of side walkers–each is transformed into a sound component and mixed into a type of song. This is a great example of how we can use instruments of making culture to reshape how we think about social life…the only problem is that the information is translated into a structure–a relational paradigm–that relatively few people understand (how notes, tonalities, rhythm etc. constitute a system of sound). This is an art fail for me.

Lots of others to add, but the purpose today was to get something published. Get back on the horse. And avoid working on that pesky powerpoint.




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3 responses to “tufte-y world

  1. I kind of suspect that Hirschkraft Metal Consulting is a moonlighting operation for JLM.

  2. Jenn Lena

    Gosh, would that it were. Then I’d have a Plan B if things don’t work out this year.

  3. Noah

    There’s something ironic about analyzing the lyrics of metal, given how much the genre is based on instrumentals.

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