Friday, June 5, 2009

Decoding Da Vinci: What Happens When You Twitter the Mona Lisa?

(Extraced from Web Monkey Blog by Scott Gilbertson)

Given Twitter’s 140 character limit, it might seem next to impossible to send something as complex as the Mona Lisa. After all, 140 characters roughly translates to a mere 140 bytes of data, never mind the complexity of stuffing actual image data into text characters.

However, thanks to Mario Klingemann, Da Vinci’s best known work has been revamped into something Picasso might have loved.

Klingemann’s experimental image-encoding technique translates the image into Chinese characters and spits out a version of the Mona Lisa that’s reminiscent of a Cubist painting.

Using Chinese characters allowed him to send 210 bytes of data in only 140 UTF-8 characters — perfect for cramming 50% more data into Twitter. The resulting polygons convey the rough colors and shapes of the Mona Lisa, as in the left-hand image above.

But don’t expect this trick to work on your handy iPhone or Blackberry. Twitter doesn’t have the decoder, so you’d simply see the Chinese characters. But run the data through Klingemann’s decoder and the result and, voilĂ ! — not exactly the Mona Lisa, but very impressive nonetheless.

To learn how Klingemann pulled it off, check out his highly technical explanation on Flickr (and if you like what you see, have a look at some of his other very creative “conceptual experiments.”)

Klingemann plans to release his code-cracking process to the world to see what other curious Twitter experimenters can come up with.

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