The Form of Sorting Algorithms
Visualizing the process of sorting
There are plenty sorting algorithms out there, and each fresh computer scientist has to learn and understand them. They are categorized by how fast they are, or how many memory they use. A sorting algorithm is a strategy to order a random or chaotic set of numbers. The most were invented between 1945 and 1964, in the very early days of computer science.
While a sorting algorithm itself is very techno centric, we are intrigued by possibilities of using the process of sorting as a narrative. It contains the story of something unordered becoming meaningful. Finding references in the chaos. Those who sort and organize might be able to guide others.
As an experiment, we wanted to investigate in the different visual forms, the process of sorting can have. Each sorting algorithm reveals its particular strategy as a unique pattern. We took a row of pixels of a photograph and sorted the pixels by their color value. Since Processings color object is actually a number, they are perfect to be ordered. It worked well with grays, but revealed an unintuitive sorting of the colors. While they are ordered mathematically, one expects the gradients to be different. source code on openprocessing.org
In the next step we took each pixelrow from top to bottom, scanning and sorting image. This way a certain rythm of color hues, brightness and darkness is added to the sorting processes. Each animation has a duration if 720 frames, since 720 rows were sorted from top to bottom. We like the idea of translating the image dimension into the time. The next step would be to think about how the image has to look like, to create a certain rythm, and in the end maybe a story.