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Art

Subjectively Mapping A City With Crowdsourced Data

<p>A group of young designers from Budapest use local data to create subjective maps of cities and countries.</p>

Kevin Holmes

The saying goes that the map is not the territory, but that’s usually because the terrain represented is rugged hillscapes, woodland, deserts, cities and the many other landscapes and places that go to make up the area being depicted. And a map is also usually static, or at the very best interactive, not something that morphs and changes with a dynamic data input, meaning that it’s usually at least somewhat inaccurate. But a project called SubMap from Dániel Feles, Krisztián Gergely, Attila Bujdosó, and Gáspár Hajdu, members of new media research lab Kitchen Budapest, aims to create maps that challenge both those concepts. Rather than being objectively produced from public data, these maps subjectively recreate the places the map represents based on online and offline activity and personal preferences. This results in abstracted maps showing Finland’s real-time Twitter communication or people’s favorite locations in Budapest—the results become distorted fragmentary insights that grow and morph the boundaries of the city or country according to the fluctuations of the data set.

Their latest map is SubMap 2.0: ebullition, which not only visualizes the data sourced from Hungary’s biggest news site origo.hu, but also turns that data into a buzzing soundscape. They explain:

In the 30 fps animation, each frame represents a single day, each second covers a month, starting from December 1998 until October 2010.

Whenever a Hungarian city or village is mentioned in any domestic news on origo.hu website, it is translated into a force that dynamically distorts the map of Hungary. The sound follows the visual outcome, creating a generative ever changing drone.

The result is a bubbling geography of data that moves away from purely representational to become a generative audiovisual animation.

[via Creative Applications]