Visualising the chatter within our cities
To celebrate the roll-out of 4G services across the UK, EE commissioned me to visualise the most talked about subjects in eleven UK cities over a three day period. Each piece is a 40" wide Lambda print, Diasec mounted on 3mm Aluminium.
While I've done work with data before, I'd never worked with this amount of data; London for instance had over six million rows of information. The challenge was to turn that huge amount of stuff (provided by the UCL centre for data analysis) into something that looked beautiful and told a story. The main pattern is derived from similar mathematics to a Sunflower head. Each point, of which there are 4320 corresponding to the number of minutes in three days, then uses colour coded rings to signify certain subjects, from Obama to X Factor.
It's been a wonderful project to work on (and we're not done yet) that involved me having to learn a lot of new things, not least how to parse that amount of data without having the software crash! Each piece is being presented to each city were they're being shown in town halls and art galleries.
Limited edition screen print for Ben Folds Five
For Ben Folds Five recent UK tour, I was asked to create two limited edition screen prints for two London dates at the Brixton Academy. The work shows seven abstract cityscapes created from one octave of the piano keyboard, representing the often homogeneous nature of travelling from city to city in a band.
To create the work I wrote a simple algorithm in Processing that used Perlin noise
to generate the cityscapes in two colours alongside black. It was then a case of going through the myriad of tiny cities I had now created to choose the best ones for the work.
The screen prints are available from The Richard Goodall Gallery
Shakespeare meets real-time rolling news
To Be Today, created for The Royal Shakespeare Company, transposes famous and not so famous Shakespearean quotes onto current news events.
When the RSC first got in touch it was to commission me to create a data visualisation of people talking about Shakespeare online. As I played around with that idea, researching the work of Shakespeare, another thought came to mind. Shakespeare's themes are as universal and as relevant today as they were when they were originally written. Would it be possible to use the words that Shakespeare wrote to describe today's events, all in real-time?
The result, after many months of writing code and testing and tweaking can be seen at tobetoday.org
. The best way to experience it though is to follow the Twitter feed @to_be_today
. You'll get Shakespeare's take on world events delivered directly to your Twitter stream.
The Kennedy Project - marking the now
As part of my continued exploration of Electric Imp, connecting objects to the Internet, I'm currently developing a prototype machine that uses a button to mark the now
We've all heard how everyone remembers where they were when they found out Kennedy had been shot. We not only remember where we were but what was happening at that time. So I made an Internet connected button that you can press at any moment which will then create a timestamp, not only marking the time and day but also what was happening in the news at the time together with the weather. It's essentially about your context within the world around you.
I've already made a bare-bones demo that you can see here
. Right now I'm working on a new version which will appear as part of OFFF Cincinnati in March.
James Bond Kills
The Guardian Data Store is a great source for interesting data, so when they released a spreadsheet of all the kills by James Bond in EON production movies I just had to have a play with the data. My thinking was to use the wonderful Dr. No titles by Maurice Binder as the visual aesthetic; this wasn't going to be a piece of information design as such but more a homage to Binder's piece of work.
After some time playing with stuff in Processing, I released it on my site. Things then went a little nuts, with it being picked by The Guardian, Shortlist and many other blogs including Daring Fireball. What I love about this little project was it shows the importance of taking the time to play, make and publish your work, no matter how small you may think it is. It's also a great example of my theme this year which is simply SHUT UP AND MAKE SOMETHING.
SHUT UP AND LEARN SOMETHING!
Alongside my personal mantra to myself this year of SHUT UP AND MAKE
SOMETHING is SHUT UP AND LEARN
SOMETHING. Rather then spend time looking at mostly rubbish on Twitter I'm taking that time to learn not only new skills but brush up on existing ones. Apart from doing a night school course in programming PASCAL many years ago, I've never had any formal training with regards to code. So I thought it was about time to learn. I'd heard about the book Code Complete
and after just a week with what is regarded as a bible for programmers I have to say my coding has already improved ten-fold. It's also helped by finding a new text editor / IDE called Sublime Text 2
. That, together with Code Complete 2 has really changed how I now write code.