Stunningly Beautiful Visualizations of Ocean Surface Currents

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Or perhaps I should say mesmerizing.  Should you ever find yourself debating with someone about the beauty of data, just ask them: “What do you think of Van Gogh’s work?  Is it beautiful?”  Soon as your antagonist gives into what is unquestionably art (if they don’t agree, just walk away), follow up with a crushing blow by showing them this video from NASA/JPL!

Yes.  Data can be beautiful.  You’ll love this.  If you don’t… then perhaps you were not hugged enough as a child.  But that’s neither here nor there.  This visualization shows the actual ocean surface currents around the world from data gathered during the period from June 2005 through Decemeber 2007.  The goal was to use ocean flow data to create a simple, visceral experience.  I’d say mission accomplished.  If you are really into it, check out the links below where you can even download a 30 minute HD video (hey… what you do with it is your business… it’s public domain!)

This Perpetual Ocean video is public domain and can be downloaded here


How Van Gogh Actually Saw The World?

I suspect Van Gogh had some form of kinesthetic-visual synesthesia as this video might lead you to think.

After I first watched this video, I had to wonder just what Van Gogh would think of such a thing – generated using real world data. He’d probably say “What? You guys don’t see that already?

I suspect, as many do, that Van Gogh had a kinesthetic/visual synesthesia.  Imagine your neural wiring being crossed in such a way that your brain is mismanaging the data being provided by your senses.  If you look at his paintings, his work looks very much like the result of someone who’s combined both the visual data with what he felt (textures, wind, etc).  If that were the case, this video might provide a representation of how Van Gogh actually saw and experienced his environment and the world.  Not only would it explain his work, but if you think about it for a second it might also explain the ear incident.  If every time a breeze blew across your ear, your world started swirling… might get a bit old after awhile.  Lose the ear!

Where To Find Out More On How The Video Was Created

The visualization was produced using NASA/JPL’s computational model called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II or ECCO2. ECCO2 is high resolution model of the global ocean and sea-ice (try saying that fast even just one time!)  ECCO2 attempts to model the oceans and sea ice to increasingly accurate resolutions that begin to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans.The ECCO2 model simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only surface flows are used in this visualization. The dark patterns under the ocean represent the undersea bathymetry. Topographic land exaggeration is 20x and bathymetric exaggeration is 40x.

More info and videos here: Perpetual Ocean


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About Tony Kinard

Digitally Innovative, Obsessively Creative, Fearless Advertising/Marketing Exec. For 16+ years I've had the honor of working with brilliant ad agencies, digital marketing innovators and technology vanguards. It's been amazingly fun and exciting work helping clients to successfully leverage tech innovations and new ideas. From scrappy startups to some of the best known brands in the world, I love the challenges they present. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some great ideas!

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