Admire: The Wilderness Downtown

The Wilderness Downtown is a music video for an Arcade Fire song and a Google Chrome experiment. At the time it pushed browser technology to the limit. I remember when it was released, I must have have watched it 10 times in a row. I never imagined that a web browser could be used in such a way and it really changed the way I looked at the web and the way it can deliver content.

After reading an interview with the creators where they said from the beginning they didn’t know if it was possible to create or include all items in their vision. I think that is a very good strategy to create something new or interesting. By pushing the boundaries of what you think is possible, to undertake a project that might fail, you are not just taking on risk — you opening the door to a unique opportunity.

Surprised: Box
Video: YouTube

Box is an impressively filmed demonstration of a mashup between the precision of industrial robots and highly choreographed projection mapping. The result is an outstanding demonstration of visual illusion which, even after watching the video several times, gives me the feeling I had while watching a David Copperfield primetime special as a child.

In the behinds the scenes video the creators even talk about how they used the principles of magic to create the illusions of the video. They also briefly discussed the difficulty and effort it took to create new tools to allow the designers to tell the robots where to move. Also considering that no one ever attempted anything like this before it is very interesting to see how polished and refined the final result was.

Disappointed: Spread of Earthquake-Related Tweets

A member of the data analytics team at Twitter created a data visualization of the tweets that followed the east coast earthquake in August of 2011. While the piece is interesting, it gives the feeling of something missing. After taking some time to reflect on the visualization, I believe that I get this feeling because of how zoomed out the only image of the visualization is. Perhaps this is intentional because the data is sparse and looks even worse is zoomed in.

This is similar to Aaron Koblin’s flight patterns piece, but just isn’t as visually appealing. Choosing a more appealing map of the US, creating some close up shots of the DC area, or perhaps just making the whole piece interactive would have improved the project. I also don’t get the lines connecting two points on the maps. Tweets are broadcasts so it is a bit confusing what that represents, and the small description doesn’t give any indication. I guess documentation really is important.