Moneytime – Data Visualization Project Proposal

1. The topic you are interested in for your final.
Personal finances. I am still pursuing a way to approach the topic in a different way from the existing apps.
I want to make a Chrome extension that will convert any money value from any web page to time value. For example, while navigating through the Amazon website, users would see values such as “5 hours”, “3 months,” “15 minutes” etc.

2. How you will research (find data, check its source, further investigation).
We* are still discussing how exactly this conversion will work. Our first idea was to make a simple (total income)/(total hours of work) calculation. Though simple and straightforward, this equation might not make sense for everyone. People we have been talking to have mentioned a different value for working time and leisure time, for instance.
Anyway, the extension will certainly ask users for some information before making any conversion. It also needs to connect to an online service to check exchange rates — to convert values between different currencies.

3. What is the story you are trying to tell? THIS MUST BE ONE SENTENCE ONLY.
How people can see the money they spend through a non-monetary perspective.

4. What kind of visualization you want to make (bar, pie, tree, etc.)
The final result doesn’t fit in any of these visual categories. Instead, the intention is to display the converted value as html text, using the same styling as the original monetary value. That is important to keep the visual consistency of the page.
Also, I think that “visualization” should refer to any device that helps people understand better a set of information. That can be achieved by means other than “visuals.”
In the case of this project, translating money to time is a way of making people “see” their spendings in a more insightful manner. This translation doesn’t have the intention of making people spend less, save more money, plan for the future etc — the usual goals of regular finance apps. Instead, it proposes a critical view on the topic that might be interpreted differently according to each individual’s relationship with his/her own money and time.

All the f***ing lines from “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.20.56 AM

Third iteration of the movie mashup project. Now searching for specific words in a movie — also based on the subtitle.
I am not counting the words in Processing, so I copied and pasted the subtitles from “The Wolf of Wall Street” into Textalyser. The first words by far in the ranking are “you” and “what” — not very meaningful, though.

So I used “fucking,” third one with 211 occurrences. Taking a look at the full list, “fuck” and “fucking” also appear a lot of times. Because they are sort of variations of the same thing, I searched for any time that any of them is said — 431 times total. That happens in 351 subtitles — sometimes more than once in a single line, then.

Code on Github.

Repeteated Movie Lines

groundhog_day

Another iteration of the movie mashup project. This one searches for repeated lines in a movie. Also based on the subtitles file.
“Groundhog Day” was an obvious choice because of its repeating plot. Interesting to notice that some of the repeated scenes were certainly shot at once, because Bill Murray’s hair looks exactly the same.

Code on Github.

Movie Lines Sorted Alphabetically

This is the first attempt towards my proposal for a generative movie mashup.  The code is based on the same Processing sketch I used before to make a mashup book.
The subtitles’ time code (start and end) are used to play the movie jumping from one position to another.
The lines are sorted alphabetically and the video editing is automated based on that.

Code on Github.

Mashup Book

Idea
A book made out of characters’ lines from two different movies. Their plots should have similar elements. As a result, mixing the two could create a coherent story.

Inspiration
This project is influenced by the idea that narratives are constructed by readers — spectators in a broader sense, not necessarily text readers. This principle has been one of the central concepts explored in the Narrative Strategies class (see final project proposal for this class here). It can be also be interpreted as an example of the psychological phenomena apophenia, the human tendency to see patterns and create connections between apparently random information.

Content
I chose the movies “Her” and “Weird Science” to make this experiment. Though very different in language and target audience, both can be summed up as having the same basic plot. Besides, I think that the contrast between an 80’s teenage movie from John Hughes and a contemporary one by Spike Jonze was interesting.
At last, this relates to the idea of archetypal stories, another concept from narrative studies.
00_weird_science 00_her

Prototypes
I downloaded the subtitles for the movies from Open Subtitles. They come in srt format, which is basically a plain text file in which the subtitles are indexed like this:
1
00:01:45,294 --> 00:01:47,400
"To my Chris ...


2
00:01:49,333 --> 00:01:52,078
I've been thinking how to tell
how much you mean to me.

So I parsed each srt line using Processing and mapped the subtitle’s time index to a position. This is the first prototype. You can download the pdf here.
her_weird_science_overlapping-4 her_weird_science_overlapping-5

The lines for each movie are displayed in different colors. Because I was mapping time to position, the subtitles overlap most of the time. Though visual interesting, the result was barely readable. So I made a new version sorting the subtitles based on their time position and then displaying then in sequence. Here is the full pdf.
her_weird_science_too-4 her_weird_science_too-5

The colors helped keep it visually appealing, but they worked against my intention of mashing up the content. So I used black for all text, instead:
her_weird_science_too_black-4 her_weird_science_too_black-5

Final
I generated a pdf document with the result, making a script to paginate the content. Then I finished the book imposition and added some pages in Indesign. The colophon page tells the story of the book’s process in exaggerated detail, as a commentary on the questions about copyright that the project raises:
her_weird_science_113_120-1

At last, I printed and binded the book, trying to make it as a “real” book as possible.
01_folios 02_stitching
05_binding06_cover_paiting 08_cover_laser_cutting 09_cover_binding11 1612 1514 13

The result is sometimes pure nonsense and sometimes coincidently coherent. There are a few passages in which the characters seem to be talking about the same subject.
17
10a_final19 20
18 22 23
21

The code for all iterations of the project is on Github. It can easily be changed to mix any other two movies.
The full book pdf can be downloaded here.

Final Project – Proposal

gabriel_presentation_00This project is the third in a sequence of experiments with generative narrative that I have been doing for my Major Studio class.

gabriel_presentation_01
The first one is called Telephone.

gabriel_presentation_02It is an html page in which you search for a term. The server connects to the Google Images API, gives you back an image, automatically search for the title of that image, gives you back the new image, search for its title and so on.

gabriel_presentation_03It might sound complex, but it’s a very simple way of mimicking the miscommunication created by the children’s game telephone — using computers instead of people.

gabriel_presentation_04The results generate unexpected connections. Sometimes they are completely nonsense.

gabriel_presentation_05Sometimes they seem to make sense.

gabriel_presentation_06When I first presented it, I didn’t explain the technicalities involved. Then I asked people how comfortable they felt about not really understanding what was going on behind the scenes.

gabriel_presentation_07The response I got was that the connections were very clear, so no further explanations were needed.

gabriel_presentation_08That seemed to connect with these 2 principles that I was learning in the Narrative Strategies class. The second principle might be interpreted as a consequence of the first.

gabriel_presentation_09In a broader sense, the idea of a message being formed by the person who receives it can also relate to the psychological phenomena known as apophenia, the human tendency to see patterns. The principle has its variants, such as pareidolia, a type of apophenia associated with images or sounds. This is a very common phenomena in our lives. We experience it by seeing faces in geometric forms like the one above.

gabriel_presentation_11We also experience it when we see Jesus’ faces on toasts.

gabriel_presentation_12An interesting manifestation of apophenia in literature is the short story “The Library of Babel,” by Jorge Luiz Borges. In the story, people inhabit a library full of books made out of 25 characters sorted in every possible order. Most books are unreadable and completely nonsense. Even so, people believe that there might be books containing useful information and even predictions of the future, because all possible permutations are contained in the books.

gabriel_presentation_13These ideas led me to a second experiment called Her Weird Science.

gabriel_presentation_14It is a mashup of Her and Weird Science — a teenage movie from the 80’s directed by John Hughes.

gabriel_presentation_15I chose the two inspired by the ideas of archetypal stories, that is, basic plots that repeat over different narrative pieces. Both Her and Weird Science tell the story of men playing God, recreating human intelligence. The same plot is also found in Frankenstein, Pinocchio, and in more recent pieces of science fiction.

gabriel_presentation_16This is very explicit in one of the initial scenes from Weird Science, in which the characters are watching Frankenstein.

gabriel_presentation_17That explains the content. The narrative strategy, though, is based on letting users construct their own stories in their minds. Technically, I mashed up the subtitles from the 2 different movies and sorted them based on the time index of each subtitle.

gabriel_presentation_18Then I printed a book with the result.

gabriel_presentation_19There is no visual differentiation telling users about which sentence belong to which movie. Like in the  Telephone project, sometimes the result is pure nonsense and sometimes it seem to construct a cohesive narrative.

gabriel_presentation_20There are fortunate cases in characters from both movies talk about the same subject.

gabriel_presentation_21At last, my project for Narrative Strategies is a sequence of these two previous experiments. It will once again be a mashup of 2 movies.

gabriel_presentation_23Instead of translating that to a book form, though, I’ll keep them as videos.

gabriel_presentation_24Besides having similar stories, I’ll try to find movies with the same character names. By doing so, I’ll try to use the character names on the the subtitles to jump from one scene to another, instead of having the time-based sorting as before. This is a way of reducing the randomness in the connections.

gabriel_presentation_25I intend to do that with code once more. That is not a narrative strategy, but it’s not an idiosyncratic choice either. As said in the beginning of this presentation, I’m interested in generative art. The purpose is to create an apparently cohesive narrative by playing with algorithms.

gabriel_presentation_26