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Over the years, I have devised several highly idiosyncratic data art projects that attempt to convert facts and figures into mechanically determined music. A kind of sequel to a 2010 piece I did called The Dow Piano, this 3D animated data visualization for CNNMoney translates the ups and downs of the 2013 stock market into a rather odd reggae song. The pitch for each note is determined by the daily closing numbers of the S&P 500.

The monthly sectors gradually light up in greens and reds depending on the percentage change for each month. You'll hear the melody line transform from a bass to a high-pitched synth as the market soars ever higher. The visualization was featured on Fast Company's Co.Design blog as Infographic of the Day, and was exhibited as part of a great show called Dataism at the famous Droog Gallery in Amsterdam, in February 2014.

3D wireframe from a data viz project
The basic setup for a 3D data visualization about the stock market
Still from data animation about the S&P 500
3D bar chart in a circular design by Bård Edlund / EDLUNDART

Market Music is included as an example of creativity and innovation in data visualization in the extensive visualization course by Bill Shander. Its predecessor, The Dow Piano, was featured on Popular Science, Swissmiss, Co.Design (which subsequently named it one of the best infographics of 2011), FlowingData and other visualization sites, and inspired the programmers of EA Sports' Fight Night Champion boxing game to make a similar system tracking their code revisions.

While my data visualization projects are often innovative or at least interesting or entertaining systems, they are not based on code. Everything is "hand-made" with visual adjustments made manually to exactly match the data. If you are looking for someone to generate visuals from code, I am not the right person for the job. However, I can happily art direct such a person, or design strange and quirky things based on limited data sets and a lot of patience and design know-how.

Now, have a look at some other visualization projects!

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