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The Bison Thing Explained Pt. 3 — Concept and Execution

July 7th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Art, Bison, Code, Comments on Process, Concept, Digital Process

On my first visit to Memphis I walked into Graceland with a mild appreciation of Elvis and the tacky souvenirs he left behind. But by the time I left I fully understood the world’s infatuation of this human being. The image of Elvis was defined differently for me.

This was a similar experience to the relationship I now have with the American Buffalo. The book changed my perception of the Bison just like Graceland changed my perception of Elvis.

This gets to my original intent of this whole project:

If my perception of the Bison was open, why can’t I help define what it is? (If only for myself) If my mental model of the bison is no longer the James Earle Fraser version, what does it look like for me?

MY version of the bison is something that is beautiful, tragic, ghost-like, and complex. So I began to experiment with building images that matched that;

1. Faux Fur

I started with a series of sketches that looked like this.

Using found images of Bison I built faux fur and pulled pixel information from the images to create a recreation made entirely of fur.

The fur sketches had a nice ghost-like quality to them. I then moved away from the fur and focused on trying to replicate the coin. That led me to thinking about laser-cutting…

2. Actual Nickels — Laser-Cut Silhouettes 


Bison Template

This is a concept that I fooled around with for a short while. I wanted to create an actual coin…dynamic bison silhouettes laser cut from steel. I sliced up torsos, behinds, feet and heads of buffalo images to randomly create a franken-bison shape. It would have been a real nickel you could hold in your hand!! I abandoned this one because it was really difficult to get the seams to match up for all the different body parts.

3. Infographic (sort of)

My next (and hopefully final) attempt is to build an image that is controlled by data that relates to the Bison. I’ve collected data of herd populations in Yellowstone as well as the value of the Buffalo Nickel coin. The information drives the output in a way that becomes a kind of incomprehensible data visualization.

But more about that in the next post when we talk about inspiration and the dos and don’ts of data visualization.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Kaliatech // Jul 14, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Excellent write-ups in this series. Lots of cool thoughts and notes. I feel I finally understand at least a little of your thinking around the Bison concepts. Looking forward to the visualization.

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