Spirals within spirals: Work in progress

Spirals Within Spirals is a work in progress artwork using 3D fractal data visualization to focus on the poetics and aesthetics of a possible new model for representing time and data.

The usual forms of data visualisation present information in graphs, tables and diagrams using lines and boxes. The interfaces we work with everyday on computers, cameras, phones and televisions present us with framed screens and software systems employing more boxes and linear conventions of time and progress. The world however, and all the complex and dynamic living processes within it, do not unfold or present themselves in these linear forms and could be visualised instead through the swirl and pulse of the spiral.

In the Indian culture time is not imagined as a line but rather as a recurrence. The natural environment, our bodies and other lifeforms move to spiralling ryhthms: diurnal, seasonal, circadian, tidal, lunar. Natural forms utilise spirals, bifurcations, tesselations, oscillations: DNA and galaxies, seashells and lightning, honeycombs and river meanders, clouds and heartbeats. Instead of the current conventions of time we might think of time out of mind, of dandelion clocks, of trying to live with the rolling of the world instead of attempting to corral and control it.

The discovery of fractals and other mathematical models underlying life present alternative ways of holding and looking at data that have the integrity of sustainability rather than the constant impetus for more prevalent in capitalist, consumerist progress. Climate and enviromental data might be mapped instead onto spirals within spirals.

There is a fruitful conjunction between these natural patterns and data programming that might bloom into new shapes for time, and new reasons for data, that are not measured, controlling, or mean, but are instead sustainable and generous.

Tracey Warr