Everyone ever in the world…
About 10 years ago, Peter Crnokrak gave up his career as a quantitative geneticist, deciding instead to apply his talent for manipulating large data sets to the visualization of life at the human scale.
His visualizations, created under the nom de data viz of The Luxury of Protest, are both visually stunning and scientifically precise. And, as with his previous genetics research (he was trying to tease out the difference between nature and nurture in our genes), Crnokrak the graphic artist wrestles with enormous, core questions about humanity and history.
His most well-known piece, titled Everyone Ever in the World, tries to capture human history’s cumulative war dead as a proportion of every person who has ever lived since 3000 BC. That piece–meant, like all of his work, to be experienced as a physical installation rather than a JPEG–was honored last year by the journal Science in the National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.
Crnokrak has also tried to illustrate the quantitative degree to which each of the 192 United Nations member states has contributed to peace and terror in the world. And more recently, he has graphed every known empire, colony, and territorial occupation since 2334 BC. In the resulting visual, individual empires overlap atop each other, revealing ebbs and flows in empire mania over time. That piece is called Never Forever Never for Now. (The titles themselves are meant to carry Crnokrak’s concepts in a poetic way, and he admits to having spent weeks just coming up with Everyone Ever, let alone doing the research for it.)
Explore these pieces and others at Crnokrak’s site; they’re intended to be viewed as physical objects, in person– still, the photos are very compelling.
As we brood over the big picture, we might note that this date (Don DeLillo’s birthday) was the occasion, in 1805, of the first performance of Beethoven’s only opera (at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien): a work in three acts known then as Leonore— the story of Leonore, who, disguised as a prison guard named “Fidelio,” rescues her husband Florestan from death in a political prison. Like many of Beethoven’s pieces, the opera was subsequently reworked… in this case, distilled to two acts and retitled Fidelio.
We might also pause to send consoling birthday greetings to Timothy Evans, who was born on this date in 1924. Evans was accused in 1950 of murdering his wife and daughter, convicted, and hanged that year. Throughout his trial, Evans argued his innocence, and pointed to his downstairs neighbour, John Christie, as the likely culprit. Three years later Christie was unmasked as a serial killer, and confessed to the murder of Evan’s family. Evan’s case– its obvious miscarriage of justice– was a major spur to the abolition of capital punishment in the U.K. in 1965.