Cities are filled with information - every street bleeds data in every conceivable form, emanating from taxis, sirens, conversations, not to mention the data flowing from every cell phone, laptop and music device. This sort of flood can't possibly be parsed, leaving city dwellers to develop mental walls to protect themselves from the fire hose of data they're bombarded by every day. But what do they miss? What's happening in their immediate area that they can't even become aware of?
This information deluge has sparked a push to visualize data in recent years, leading to some beautiful maps, diagrams and videos of areas and the facts they hold. Complex programs have been written to emulate the passage of data in nearly all walks of life. However, in nearly every case, these expressions exist only on paper and in computers - the average city-dweller has no reasonable access to this data; certainly not in their daily routine. What good is data that can't be used?
My project aims to address this need with a series of small personal devices for interpreting the city. My objects are small, pocket-sized items that monitor for sounds we miss in our everyday lives, and display in real-time the audio events around us.
I've become completely fascinated with the interest people exhibit in cities (especially NYC) the little serendipitous moments in everyday life - finding something new, hearing something unexpected, enjoying a moment of unprovoked beauty. However, in the years since 2001, "unexpected" has often quickly become "scary" or "threatening" to many people, even prompting the creation of several laws. I'm hoping to explore what makes people go one way or the other with it, ideally ending up with a thesis that bridges the two worlds. More specifically, theres a point in any encounter with an unfamiliar situation where one has to decide whether the subject in question is pleasing or threatening - and its this point that I hope to explore and test.