This week we were asked to look into Big Data and how we can use it to benefit the City of Cardiff and / or it’s inhabitants.  After looking at several options as a staring point – what data is available, what issues does Cardiff suffer from, previous projects – I came across the idea of representing data as Art.  Could we use big data and display it to a wide audience in a scintillating and educational way?  Having looked a previous, public art installations – the musical swings on the streets of Montreal stuck with me from a previous presentation – I looked at ways of representing the data in a dynamic way, allowing the city to look like it was moving and pulsating all the time.  Initially thinking of iron fillings and manipulating them with magnets, I came across Ferro Fluid: a liquid substance that is magnetic, but behaves like a liquid when under no magnetic influence.  This fascinating substance provided the backbone to the project.

Working in a team of three, we split duties into the design and collecting the sources of the big data which would feed the installation.  With live data being collected, we decided to put our installation into a busy section of Cardiff City, where it would display live data feeds onto an abstract map of the city.  Passers by could interact with a touch screen board and dynamically change the display on the giant abstract map, moving the ferro fluid around (using magnetic pulses dictated by the big data source of information), and showing the city in a living, moving way.  The installation would be both fascinating to watch and educational to witness – to see the city from afar covered in CO2 really brings home the scale of the issue to the citizens.

Below is the presentation and associated notes for each slide.  This will get an over structure to the project.


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