Fleshmap (2008) – Martin Wattenberg collaborating with Fernanda Viegas and Dolores Lab
I found the Fleshmap project very interesting because of the nature of the investigation. Sex and desire are subjects that are so embedded in our culture right now, but at the same time they’re still treated with a heavy taboo in regards to talking about sex in daily conversation and with the treatment of sexual education in the school system. Visually I find the first graphic of the most desirable places to be touched (man and woman) to be very engaging, and although the data (from Mechanical Turk) isn’t surprising, it does help the viewer more palpably understand the erotic nature of the data. The other part of the project I found really interesting was their analysis of the mention of different body parts in different genres of music. The information you can draw from this visualization (2nd image), gives surprising insight into the way sex factors into cultural and musical trends. It’s interesting to consider the popularity of hip hop right now combined with the visualization that it’s one of three genres that do not list the eyes as the most mentioned, and instead most mentions the ass, as opposed to the other two that mention hands most. This is fascinating when thinking about how the eyes are called “the window into the soul” and are often associated with love and emotion, while asses are most often are an object of desire. I think Fleshmap is a meaningful project that shows the pervasive and popular nature of sex in the current cultural environment.