Beyond its physical architecture, the city is an assemblage of sentiments and associations. When made visible, these impressions can add to our understanding of the urban environment and its effect on people. This concept became the objective for two experimental interactive works, Pastiche and Invisible Cities, that I created together with my collaborators Ivan Safrin and Liangjie Xia. Both pieces aggregate data from social networks to construct an immersive, navigable map depicting topical associations between individuals and city areas. In Pastiche, I was interested in subjective associations with individual neighborhoods. Keywords extracted from real-time Twitter data are displayed in geographic relation to neighborhoods and together form a typographic map of the city. Invisible Cities highlights the topics connecting individual pieces of content, as well as disparate areas of the city. It surfaces content from both Twitter and Flickr in real-time, while manifesting areas of high and low cumulative density through the physical deformation of the urban landscape as pictured. Paths link individual geospatial data points in chronological order, giving the viewer the ability to experience the evolution of topics in both time and space. In tying social data to physical space, both works aim to give form to the “metacity” — the city of the mind.
Christian Marc Schmidt