Seeing Data as Something Beautiful

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria Scileppi and Carhartt

Maria is a dear friend of mine. When I first met her, she was the director of Chicago Portfolio School. She’s now on the path of a full time artist. That’s guts right there! She’s living at an artist co-op, Transamoeba, where she daily lives out her philosophy, “life is art.”

Maria’s work is in the geo-social realm. For the past few years, she has been visualizing communities with custom software and GPS data. Her goal is to reveal one-of-a-kind patterns shaped by a specific group of people in a particular moment of time. It’s exciting to see how it draws people together as they tell their individual stories and how they all fit together in the larger narrative.

I recently got the chance to help out on a project she did called Crossroads. Thirty-five Chicago residents participated in a daylong transmedia documentary based on their data. As per the stipulations, everyone went somewhere in the city they’d never been before and wrote a short story describing their adventures. All the participants’ movements were tracked and combined with their stories and photos. It all culminated into a happening, short film, prints, and a book.

The next project on Maria’s horizon is called Journey Home. Maria, Christopher Breedlove and Gordon Kummel, are going to visualize the emotional and physical journey to Black Rock City for Burning Man. People from all over the country will come together to contribute their metadata (their GPS data, pictures taken along the way, and the stories they write) combined to create a transmedia documentary. The final product will be a social app, a short film, prints, a book, and a happening.

If you’re going to Burning Man, you should be a part of Maria’s social art! This kind of thing has  never been done before- and it would be so exciting to get in on the forefront!

Check out Maria’s website here.