Can Links Be Art? Majestic Partners With Artist Brendan Dawes
For the skilled linkbuilders among us, getting that high value link has always been part science and part art. Now Majestic is taking the art of links to the next level, partnering with renowned UK artist Brendan Dawes to generate 3D models of websites’ link graphs.
Called ‘Majestic Landscapes‘, these 3D models provide a real-life tangible representation of a website’s digital footprint on the world wide web. The process is fairly straightforward: a website’s link profile is rendered in a 3D wireframe, which is then converted in to a file for use in 3D printers.
The link graph can then be printed and, with the right colours and materials, will emerge as a beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind object in the real world. This object represent a website as it exists digitally as an interlinked part of the entire web.
All art is subjective of course, but I for one find these 3D models of link profiles to be greatly intruiging. As digital professionals, so much of what we do is intangible and only accessible through screens. These 3D objects transport some of what we do from the digital realm in to the physical world, and in a beautiful form as well.
Commenting on the choice of 3D models for visualising Majestic’s link data, Brendan Dawes said:
“I think the context adds to the ‘weight’ of the work – as you say when you know what it’s attempting to communicate then that takes on a much fuller meaning. That said though I think they’re beautiful in their own right.”
I asked Dixon Jones, Majestic.com’s marketing director, why they decided to commission these 3D landscapes of websites digital DNA:
“One of our team has always admired the data artist, Brendan Dawes, so we brought him in to demonstrate how data might be manipulated and used “outside the box”. In this case – quite literally – we ended up moving the data outside the box. It has little or no obvious commercial value, but is intellectually valuable research. My overriding objective here is to start the debate on the wider use of Majestic’s data – beyond traditional search.
We had a team meeting with Brendan and discussed ideas like creating Top Trumps cards of Senators, or using Topical Trust Flow on badges at conferences so people could see each other’s sphere of influence. These were great ideas, but when it came to visualizing data, our 2D link profile chart seemed to be lacking. Making it a 3D model seemed a beautiful way to demonstrate that the data had other uses, without necessarily forcing ideas into people’s minds.”
So what if you want one for your own website? Unfortunately that’s not easy. While you can’t buy one of these right now, if you’re a Majestic premium partner you will receive your own unique link landscape in the mail.
That means it’s still out of reach for most people. However, if you have access to a 3D printer, you can sign up to the Majestic Insights email list – the software will be given away for free to subscribers, so you can use it to print your own version.
Also keep an eye out for Majestic stands at various Big Data conferences in the UK this year, where they hope to have a 3D printer up and running to create pieces in real life.
Lastly, Dixon says you could always come and visit Majestic at their HQ in Birmingham; they’ll put the printer on instead of the kettle! Just be sure to give them an advance warning first – it takes quite a while to print one of these beauties.