"The future of digital is physical"—this statement by Google Creative Lab's Tom Uglow at last year's Port Eliot Festival comes to mind when one encounters the Data Necklace. This new piece of jewelry from designer and software developer Stef Lewandowski is a wonderful example of how beautiful physical objects can be created by patterns of digital data. These new designs came about through Lewandowski's time on the remote Scottish Isle of Eigg (pronounced egg), where he is currently EiggBox's geek-in-residence.
Inspired by some wool he was given on the island, and an Art+Data hack day he attended back in London, Lewandowski realized his ambition "to do something more physical" with his first felt data necklace. He started by coding his wife Emily's stream into an Illustrator file, which is then sent to the laser cutter to create the felt. The oval circle pattern in the necklace gives an abstract representation of the number of times Lewandowski's wife tweeted in each five-day period.
Since that first go, Lewandowski has created several iterations of the Data Necklace by taking key words from people's Twitter streams and similarly visualizing them through laser cut designs. For example, the "Love" necklace takes a year of his wife's Twitter feed and measures how often she used the word. This time Lewandowski used acrylic to showcase laser etched examples of Emily's most interesting "Love" tweets on the individual strands of the necklace. Also striking is the red acrylic "Death" necklace which according to Lewandowski is "A visualization of all conversations on Twitter for a 47-day period on the subject of death."
"Data. It's all around us," says Lewandowski. "Much of what we do on a daily basis leaves digital records of our activity behind us. It turns out that there are tiny, hidden stories in the data that we create just by being ourselves, and we can turn those stories into beautiful things." Now Lewandowski has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funding for the development of his Data Necklace concept. The money will help him afford materials, time on the laser cutter to perfect the process, and perhaps even invest in a laser cutter of his own. Through the campaign you can pre-order your own bespoke Data Necklace with whatever word from your Twitter stream you'd like to wear around your neck, with fundraising prices from $5.