A refreshing social effervescence
This project focuses on the continuous flow of social data fragments that herald our transitions between online and offline worlds.
Each time a person goes online or offline, servers all over the world are alerted, and simple messages are transmitted to that person’s online friends. While these transitions are most of the time ignored, our project captures this data in order to highlight and dwell within the liminal spaces between the physical and virtual worlds that we inhabit. This continuous and dynamic data flow inspired us to create an installation where such transitions are metaphorically represented and mirrored by a succession of physical and nonphysical phenomena.
DATAFIZZ illustrates the wealth of unstructured, invisible, and often incomprehensible data on the internet. It explores the way we inhabit and transition between distinct online and offline worlds.
The installation consists of a water tank, a projection surface, and some electronics. Custom software tracks the on- and offline transitions of people who volunteer their data. The on- and offline transitions of the participants are signified by the appearance and disappearance of real bubbles in the water tank and virtual bubbles on the projection surface above the tank. At the time of each transition online, a real bubble rises from the bottom of the tank to its top, and continues its life as a projected bubble floating over the water tank. While the physical bubbles crossing the water tank symbolize the transitional space defined by the actions of people going on- and offline, the floating projected bubbles populate the territory of virtual presence.
Vast amounts of unstructured data characterize the internet age. This continuous flow of data is largely invisible and incomprehensible without technological aids. In particular, data-mining and visualization technologies allow us to more readily discover new relationships and meanings within the data. Effective data visualization requires a sound understanding of both statistics and data architecture, while retaining a firm grasp on principles of human perception, theories of design and keen artistic sensibilities. Thus, data visualization has become an active locale for collaborations between scientists, sociologists, artists and designers.
The internet age is inherently social. Much of these unstructured data flows carry reflections and fragments of our online and offline presence to friends throughout the world. As we attempt to keep up with the social data flow, we must find new ways to organize both real and virtual aspects or our lives. Information architectures, interfaces, widgets and social networks begin to take on as much importance as urban conditions, built structures, objects and our social environment.
TENT London 2009
24-27 September 2010, London
18 April 2010, Budapest