Beautiful, impossibly intricate patterns and textures are all around us. Look around the room you’re sitting in, and you can probably find some complex natural designs—the wood grain on your table, a ripple in your glass of water, the lines on the palm of your hand. Other natural patterns become visible to us only with the help of technology and data.
These wind maps are part of a personal art project created by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg of HINT.FM. They take real-time wind data collected from the National Digital Forecast Database and animate them to reveal the wind’s utterly gorgeous fluid pathways over the United States. The still images are lovely, but you should watch the moving maps on the site for the full effect. It turns out that we land-dwellers are immersed in a tumultuous, swirling, invisible ocean—we can’t see it, but we feel the current.
The patterns in many of these images recall the supernatural sky in Starry Night, making me imagine that Van Gogh was a synesthete with the ability to “see” the wind. Sadly, I lack this heightened visual sense, and with the exception of appreciating a cool breeze on a hot day, I often take the wind for granted. These moving maps are a wonderful reminder of the powerful energies that surround us always, moving in their own complex rhythms, just as we humans do. Have a great weekend, everyone!