A Building-Sized Net as Canvas, Overlaid with Light Paintings from Mobile Phones

“Interactive architecture” has long been a phrase, a future echo – something coming – but it’s been tough to say what it would look like when it arrived. In the collaboration of Janet Echelman and Aaron Koblin this month, we see one form it might take. Koblin and Echelman joined forces to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the TED Conference in Vancouver, in a massive 300-foot literal web (and Web) hung high above the water. Koblin is the well-known digital artist, now at Google, but the material of the work is rooted partly in old-world technique. Echelman – here sponsored …

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Cascading Topologies of Data, in 3D Surface and Projection Mapping

Yota Devices / Scenarios from onionlab on Vimeo. Beyond the tired repetition of look-alike work, collaborations between areas like architecture and visual design really can light up our cities in new ways. I spent some time today touring the Fab Lab Barcelona, a multi-disciplinary fabrication studio peopled by experts in architecture and design. What’s special about this space to me is not only the well-stocked array of tools, but a commitment to applying technology to new contexts. The campaign just wrapped up yesterday on a crowd-funded sensor board that will provide intelligent environmental data from around the world, called Smart …

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Processing 2.0 Arrives; Where to Get Started Upgrading Your Creative Coding

It’s been a long time coming, but Processing this week has reached 2.0, a major landmark release. For graphics, video, data, and usability, it’s a big leap forward. The big story here is that the creative coding tool is both faster and simpler. An OpenGL engine, built by GLGraphics developer Andres Colubri, now powers everything. That makes extraordinary feats of graphic wonder possible (with shaders and the like), but it also irons out frustrating inconsistencies between renderers. The narrative is similar for video. Andres Colubri’s GSVideo library handles the video work, with high-performance HD (and function with the shaders) for …

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Creative Coding, Evolved: Processing Nears 2.0 Release With Hot-Looking Beta 9

There’s a reason for Processing’s popularity. By making code simple, elegant, and direct, and catering directly to the kinds of visual ideas creative people have, the environment has made programming accessible to artists and designers in a way nothing else could. Coding no longer has to be a source of fear, or a bad word. But Processing, years into its life, has also badly needed a refresh. 2.0 is more than just a house cleaning. It’s a new direction, with “modes” that mean it’s no longer tied to old desktop Java architectures. (See a tantalizing screenshot below – with the …

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Personal Data Visualization: loci Makes 3D-Printed Sculptures from Your Air Travel [Max/MSP]

Data visualization is moving from the macroeconomic and large-scale – census numbers and such – to the personal. And digital work is getting more physical. So, it’s telling to look at this latest interaction design project from Copenhagen-based creator Andrew Spitz. The sound designer-turned-interaction designer built an app in Max/MSP that pulls travel information – entered manually or from TripIt – and outputs graceful arcs in a 3D-printed sculpture that acts as a tangible travelogue. (I’d actually love to see it go further, perhaps showing elevation with flight tracking or something, but the simple gesture here is nice.) Max to …

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3drecordtop

3D Printed Records: We Talk to the Creator About Her Work, 3D Printing Potential

3D printing is transforming digital information into objects in ways we haven’t seen before. However, a project has been making the rounds through online media partly because it recalls a familiar object: the musical record. Amanda Ghassaei’s 3D-printed record sounds crude, but it makes clear the connection of data to printed, physical form: take a music file, make a printed album. Amanda writes: I’m a really big fan of your blogs and I thought you might like a project I’ve recently published on instructables: I managed to actually print a working (although quite noisy) record on a 3D printer. I …

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The Augmented City: Istanbul’s Data, Made Visible in Glitchy Structures

Augmented Structures v2.0 / Istanbul Design Biennial / October 13th – December 12th, 2012 from Refik Anadol on Vimeo. Our century is marked by a wash of data, flooding out of explosive urbanization. Humans and numbers, it seems, are now densely packed, dynamic, and essential. Yet with that same density, they threaten to become invisible. The challenge of visualists: break the barrier to reveal that unseen world. Call it data mapping. “Augmented Structures” is, first and foremost, rather lovely to look at. It’s a kind of architectural performance, in glitching, flickering contrasts of sound and light. Maybe the scale of …

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The Augmented City: Istanbul's Data, Made Visible in Glitchy Structures

Augmented Structures v2.0 / Istanbul Design Biennial / October 13th – December 12th, 2012 from Refik Anadol on Vimeo. Our century is marked by a wash of data, flooding out of explosive urbanization. Humans and numbers, it seems, are now densely packed, dynamic, and essential. Yet with that same density, they threaten to become invisible. The challenge of visualists: break the barrier to reveal that unseen world. Call it data mapping. “Augmented Structures” is, first and foremost, rather lovely to look at. It’s a kind of architectural performance, in glitching, flickering contrasts of sound and light. Maybe the scale of …

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Holy S*** Visualization: Earth, Surrounded by Asteroids, and the 500k Kilometer Pixel

Watch this one in HD – because at 1080p, each pixel represents some 500,000 kilometers. And sit down: you may suddenly feel … exposed. (Duck!) The latest version of a popular visualization of asteroid discovery now brings high definition. And that’s important, because we’re talking about distances and data on the scale of the solar system. The video comes to us via Scott Manley, who has the awesome tagline, “Hacker, Astronomer, Gamer, DJ, Scotsman.” (His YouTube channel also contains a ridiculously cool-looking game where you run your own space program. And I thought Civilization was addictive nerd catnip; I’m staying …

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Data Visualization, in Chinese; Where in the World is Your Knowledge?

It’s extraordinary to watch the flow of information and knowledge worldwide. You could trace the evolution of media arts over the past years as not so much the introduction of entirely new ideas as the maturation of the field, as those ideas become vastly more accessible and localized. Since knowledge has to be applied, that’s potentially more powerful than “innovation” in the sense of novelty alone. Instead of relying of a handful of people to come up with all of the work, it means we could see surprising new thinking as the basic building blocks and tools of what we …

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