Skies Epitomized is a series of visualizations exploring the essence of the sky from the perspective of humans gazing at it. The works were created in collaboration with Nebojsa Jojic, a machine learning researcher at Microsoft Research. The artwork is derived from big data through machine learning algorithm that is used to create visual summarizations (epitomes) of the sky from images people post on the Internet. The exhibit is permanently installed at the Microsoft Research Headquarters in Redmond, USA.
People have been turning their eyes towards the sky for meaning and guidance since prehistoric times. Our gaze directed towards the sky has shaped astronomy, mythology, religion, agriculture, art, physics, and world-views of cultures across this globe. As an artist, I am interested in the meaning of that gaze at the sky as an element that is both mundane and archetypal for the history of our civilization.
I was guided by the notion that on Earth, we share one sky, but each person looking at it has its’ own experience of it that depends on time and place they are observing it, but mostly it depends on their “eyes”, subjective view. The multitude of mental images of the sky reflects large numbers of perspectives about the space that surrounds us and our place in the universe.
I wonder what is the significance of our way of perceiving the sky and how is that perception of the sky shaping the environment and our behavior towards the surroundings, and in so other people. In this project, we used Nebojša Jojic’s epitome model to construct the visualization (epitome) of sky images people posted on the Internet. Here, a machine learning technique allows us to go inside the head of the Internet and have a peek of it’s mental image of the sky, and also of the process of constructing that image.