In my Information Visualization class today, we were talking about visualizing tree data, like filesystems in computers, ontologies or any other hierarchical data genre, and one of the tools was a Hyperbolic Tree Visualizer. Apparently, they got idea from this sketch by the brilliant M.C. Escher. I was really impressed.
I have always found Escher's work to be amazing. His work elegantly expresses blatant violations of physical laws and beautiful challenges to perception, but to see an actual tool built around one of his works is pretty cool. Here is my favorite Escher sketch from 1961, Waterfall. (If you don't see anything wrong with that picture, look again!). This has been my desktop wallpaper for a long time.
I asked Prof Shneiderman if he thought that Escher truly was the inspiration for the tool and he said "Probably not". Ah well, dreams live on.
If you are a big fan like me, you can also buy a book of his prints - the one that I have and love. And for more on the relationship between arts, mathematic and computer science, check out Douglas Hofstadter's awesome (and long) book - GEB.