April 28, 2005
Mapping the Media
I'm often asked what is media art? My degree is in Studio for Interrelated Media. My business cards read media arts. For me, the 'media' refers less to the medium that I work in (be it plaster, video, performance, etc) but rather media as the focus. Using information found in the in newspapers, magazines, tabloids, and on the internet toward the creative process and in turn situating the work to comment upon media issues. How does the mass of information, or in some cases the lack of information, affect our lives? I am a news junkie. I skim at least a dozen newspapers online, scope out blogs, and download rss feeds to my pda for eating and toilet reading, daily. The challenge then, for either the reader or the artist, is to make sense of the information at ones disposal. Below are two tools and one blog that also, do their daily thing.
Buzztracker (above) visualizes the news, where it happens. The program takes a daily snap shot of the news stories generated in the world press, and displays the top 10 news locations upon a skewed Mercator projection map, the size of each point corresponding to the percentage of daily news generated from that location.
information aesthetics: form follows data - towards creative information visualization
Newsmap, on the other hand, analyzes the news stories themselves (or more accurately, the news information based on the google news aggregator) and displays the titles in an area map. This map is very similar the the SmartMoney Market Map
What's worse than bad map?
Bad street signs. Case one: Ho Chi Minh City. How do you NOT determine the street you're on in HCMC? By looking at the street signs. By intuitively looking where you ought to look, you will be dumbfounded to discover that all of the street signs throughout the city are facing the wrong direction - towards the flow of the opposite traffic! So, you're motorbiking it down street X wanting to know if the next cross street is Y. You crane your neck 180 degrees as you pass the sign hoping that you don't collide into either a) incoming traffic or b) someone doing the same thing. You discover that you just passed the street you were looking for and have to make an illegal u-turn to continue on your way. The picture above is an example. Note it is an intersection of one-way streets, direction indicated by arrows. You wouldn't know it because the red one-way sign also faces the direction of non-existing traffic (we'll have to assume the sign is for the dumbass who hadn't realized he was already driving against traffic - and this happens a lot!). You'll figure out that the street signs are only visible once you pass them! The solution. Don't look at the street signs, glance at the store signage as you drive down the street. You'll may not know where you're going, but you'll always know where you are.
Case number two: Dubai International Airport. This was taken from the March/April Issue of Print Magazine. The original photo credit belongs to Amir Berbic. Anyhow, I dont' really need to go into any detail. The picture speaks for itself and it has nothing to do with not knowing Arabic.
But what can you do when the street signage sucks? Get rid of them completely, as in this real-world radical move by traffic engineer Hans Monderman. No street signs, no crosswalks, no accidents, just commonsense.
Posted by rst at April 28, 2005 07:26 PM
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