Sometimes I just can’t help myself; I long for some Olympian point of view, a 50,ooo foot perspective – no, really, the god’s eye view of things, the sense of ultimate authorial omnipotence. Reading too many novels did this. Something simple and self-contained crosses my mind or my vision; a ferryboat crossing the river, a electricity substation, a hillside dotted with flowering apple orchards – and I find myself thinking in terms of similar and different patterns. Of higher and lower order systems, routes and connections. The lacework of roads, tracks, channels and trails spread across a landscape, over space and time; the flux and flow of digital bits coursing through the world’s wires every second; the evolution of an idea in a culture, of a thought in one’s psyche, of a city neighborhood. I am entranced by and sometimes produce rudimentary, abstract images on this theme – expansion and contraction, abundance and scarcity, conflict and convergence – comprised of many discrete parts or agents. Every thing on its own, single, yet connected by something. By the act of observation, perhaps.
This dynamic visualization of rainfall and urban water usage data, entitled Drawing Water (a masters project by UCLA student David Wicks) is mesmerizing to me in that vein. It’s informative, too. There are, of course, a zillion such animations and graphic renderings of all kinds thanks to Google Earth and other such mapping applications, as well as the immense amount of aggregated data out there. People more data-driven than I are doing really interesting things with all of it. It’s the kind of thing I wish I could do sometimes. (Via Fast CoDesign)