Time Bomb – Interactive Graffiti

Graffiti and technology are all the rage these days. Holler’s Lukasz Karluk and Sydney sculptor/painter Maddi Boyd (KissKiss) have created a work for Creative Sydney called Time Bomb that will exhibited in Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art on May 27th.

Nine urban artists contributed to the TimeBomb piece over the course of four days. Their painting of different layers and styles was captured with time-lapse time-lapse photography, creating an animated film of the whole process. The exhibit will show the final work and a projection of it side by side. Using camera tracking and the fluid dynamics distortions, interactors can poke through into the history of the artwork, scraping back the layers via their distortions and movements. Like many interactives, the video above shows it much more clearly than is possible to explain in words.

The project uses OpenFrameworks together with memo’s extraordinary Fluid Dynamics library to create these distortions in the footage.

There will be a second film once the exhibition has opened to focus more on the interaction. Lukasz, the man with a surfeit of consonants, has more technical details on his blog post about Time Bomb.

Tickets for the event are free, but you have to register for them here.

(Thanks to Holler’s CD, Tim Buesing for the heads up on this).

Interaction Forum ’09


I’m going to be giving a talk over at Interaction Forum ’09 at the Design School in Hildesheim next week (Tuesday 26th). If anyone is in that neck of the woods, come and say hello – maybe send me a tweet and we can catch up.

I’m going to be talking about play as guiding principles to interactivity, but I’m much more looking forward to listening to the other two speakers, Jona Piehl from Land Design Studio and Mark Hauenstein from AllOfUs.

The Art of Isolated Thousands

Bicycle Built for Two Thousand from Aaron on Vimeo.

Information used to be scarce, held by the rich and powerful and carefully guarded. Now we have and overwhelming amount of the stuff and each leave huge trails of it wherever we go, online and offline. It is no wonder that Data Visualisation has become such a rich area for the blending of designers, artists, programmers and number fetishists. These days there are enormous datasets, often with open APIs to mine.

Aaron Koblin’s project, Flight Patterns gained a lot of attention for its beautiful, ghostly patterns of flights in and out of the USA built from FAA flight data as did his work on the Radiohead House of Cards “video”.

But what do you do when you want to create a large data set all of your own? I went back to Koblin’s site for a lecture I am writing and was thrilled to discover a whole set of new projects in which he has crowdsourced input from thousands of people using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform.

The above video is from A Bicycle Built for Two Thousand – a collaboration with Daniel Massey – in which over 2,000 people were asked to record themselves emulating a tiny snippet of audio sung by a computer from the famous song.

sheep market.gif

For The Sheep Market, 10,000 participants were asked to “draw a sheep, facing left”. But my favourite is Ten Thousand Cents, which has also been around the web quite a bit. For Ten Thousand Cents, 10,000 people were paid one cent to draw 1/10,000th of an image of a $100 bill.


Like The Sheep Market it uses a custom drawing tool that records the drawing process, which is played back as you explore the images. It reminds me a of Andy Deck’s Glyphiti project, which has been around for some time now, except that in the all the Mechanical Turk instances, none of the participants had any idea of the end goal. This, for me, is where the magic lies.

There is something quite powerful about the idea of thousands of people creating a work of art in tiny, unrelated chunks, unaware of what they are contributing to. Quite apart from the end result, it provides an engaging commentary on our networked society both in terms of online connections and the global economy and sustainability.

And the sheep are hilarious.