July 29th, 2021
Art made with Datawrapper scatterplots
If you wander around the options of the Datawrapper scatterplot tool, you might find it: The feature that enables you to make art. It’s hidden in the Visualize step, at the very end of the Annotate tab. The title won’t give anything away. “Add custom lines and areas” it calls itself.
And then it warns you: “experimental”.
But once you start to trust it, it becomes a friend. It reveals itself as a treasure trove of possibilities. You can create lines. And rectangles. And yes, that’s all there is. But then, doesn’t that cover half of what modern art is about?
First, the possibilities will bring you joy. Then they will overwhelm. You’ll start with trial and error; with just dabbling around. At some point, your art will become deliberate. You’ll use the limitations of the tool (a charting tool, after all) to get creative. You’ll create kitsch. You’ll create glitches. You’ll create beauty for the masses, and beauty that won’t work for anyone but you.
And at some point, maybe, you’ll write a Weekly Chart about it.
Learn how the “Add custom lines and areas” tool works in this Academy article. To create three of these four “charts”, I used trigonometric functions like
y = cos(x*3)*sin(x) in a scatterplot with turned-off grid lines and axes. Hover over the image and click “Edit this chart” to see how it works. Also, try to resize your browser window in case you’re not on a mobile device: The charts will change a bit according to their width. And if you like this kind of art, check out sinxcosx.tumblr.com. It’s a Tumblr I created 1.5 years ago, with more trigonometric art. I’ll see you next week!