David Bowies Space Oddity data-visualized on 12-Inch-Records

Ganz großartiges Projekt von Info-Designerin Valentina D’Efilipp und der Daten-Journalistin Miriam Quick, eine „visuelle Dekonstruktion“ von David Bowies Space Oddity auf einer Serie von 10 gravierten 12-Inch-Platten aus Acryl, natürlich inklusive Prints und Schnickschnack. Jede Visualisierungen zeigt einen anderen Aspekt des Songs von Melodie, Instrumentierung und Harmonie bis hin zu Struktur, Rythmus und Narration der Lyrics. Bislang sind 7 von 10 der Platten fertig, die gesammelten Daten zu Space Oddity sind in einem Google Spreadsheet einsehbar.

Each record deconstructs the track in a different way. The 10 records are like 10 different angles on the same song, each illuminating a different aspect of it but all using the same format: one rotation of the record equals the length of the song. The first record visualises our interpretation of the story told by the song: 1 Narrative. Then four records visualise aspects of the music: 2 Recording 3 Texture 4 Rhythm 5 Harmony. The next four records visualise aspects of the vocal line: 6 Structure 7 Melody 8 Lyrics 9 Trip. The final record, 10 Emotions, is a bit different. It visualises the emotional responses people had while listening to Space Oddity.

Hier die Legende für die Visualisierung des Narrativs auf der ersten Platte:

Major Tom’s trajectory away from Earth – past 100,000 miles and into the depths of space – appears as a spiral emanating out from the centre label of the record. Here, Major Tom literally spirals out of control (or, drawing on the psychedelic resonances of the song, into the abyss; a spiral motif appears in the middle of this and all the other records in the series).

Only the black portions of the record encode information. White sections of the spiral show the parts where Bowie sings (the vocal introduction, verses, choruses and vocal bridge) and shaded sections show the instrumental passages. The position of the white sections shows which character we believe is singing at that point in the song – Ground Control is stationed on Earth, next to the centre label, while Major Tom is on the spiral, moving further and further away. Lines emanating from the white sections show the transmissions – the points where the two characters repeatedly call each other over the radio system: ‘Ground Control to Major Tom’, ‘This is Major Tom to Ground Control’.
The initial shaded portions of the spiral, showing instrumental sections (liftoff and first guitar solo), follow the position of both characters. After the vocal bridge, when we realise the two characters can no longer communicate with one another (‘Can you hear me Major Tom?), the shaded sections relating to the second break, second guitar solo and outro follow Major Tom only. That is, the music acts as a bridge or connection between the two characters until the point where the line of communication is broken, and they no longer inhabit the same emotional universe.

In this way, the conversational nature of the song, the relative location of the two characters and their ability to communicate is embedded in the design of the record.

1 Narrative

2 Recording

3 Texture

4 Rythm

5 Harmony

6 Structure

7 Melody