Exploring massive image collections with ImagePlot

Lev Manovich
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

ImagePlot is a free software tool that visualizes collections of images and video of any size. It is implemented as a macro which works with the open source image processing program ImageJ. ImagePlot was developed by the Software Studies Initiative (softwarestudies.com) with support from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH). The fully documented software was released on September 16:

Existing visualization tools show data as points, lines, and bars.
ImagePlot's visualizations shows the actual images in your collection.
The images can be scaled to any size and organized in any order - according to their dates, content, visual characteristics, etc. (The software release includes additional macros which can measure a number of visual properties of all images in a collection.) Because digital video is just a set of individual still images, you can also use ImagePlot to explore patterns in films, animations, video games, and any other moving image data.

I will present and analyze a number of visualizations of large visual data sets created with ImagePlot. I will also discuss how working with massive image sets forces us to rethink basic categories of cultural analysis such as style.

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