hara defines exformation not as “”making known”, but “understanding how little we know.”" in the age of information people are inundated with facts and media; and we strings these bits of knowledge and reference into our perception of the world and communication to others. but in this world it is all too easy to forget how little we truly know, and to challenge ourselves to think about these topics. hara’s argument resonates with lev manovich’s piece on the ”anti-sublime ideal in data visualization”.
manovich wrote that traditionally data representation has been ”driven by the rational impulse to make sense out of our complex world, the world there many process and forces are invisible and are out of our reach”, but there exists a need for data visualization to capture the sublime nature of art as well. so there is a scale from the anti-sublime (utilitarian) to the sublime (aesthetic) within dataviz that the creator needs to balance. like hara both demonstrate a need for creative works to not only present with clarity what we do know, but to explore the ambiguous, sublime topics of wonder and lack of knowledge.
subterranean city :: how do we see a place? specifically, when asked what does nyc look like – what are the images that come to mind?
geography. landscape. building. the above.
transportation. grid pattern. engineered. the underground.
relying on google maps and other applications to navigate our exploration of a city we’ve become accustomed and indeed never question the fact that the perspective of the city is from an aerial or top-down view. as a human being, an animal, my everyday perspective of nyc is from the ground, and the limits of my eye permit me to only see 100 meters across, and 100 meters up and down, and as hard as i try i cannot see through solid objects such as the pavement on the ground. meaning the skyscrapers and towers of the urban landscape that city above 100 meters often escape my attention, and what lies below the city surface is a mysterious environment. yet i traverse through it every day in my capsule of the subway; i view it constantly from this alien, panoptic perspective displayed to me that is not my own.
if we assume the way we see our city and how we move through it from the perspective of a machine (an algorithm, a satellite, a map inspired by electrical circuit maps, etc) can we truly “see” the city? specifically, in the context of the subway what if we could see the subway – not from an arbitrary perspective – but from our own, see the complex networks of trains running beneath our feet in real-time?
similar to the maps showing the landscape in the ocean deep – a world that i have never experienced and know little about – i want to visualize the landscape of urban altitudes and depths. what are the various altitudes of nyc? what does it look like from the perspective of depth? in real-time? or imagine if the sidewalks you take everyday suddenly became transparent. like glass-bottom boats the unseen complex network of the nyc subway was apparent; you could seen the trains flow beneath your feet.